The Titans defense has come under fire in the first quarter of the season based in large part on its standings in the league and the fact that it has given up a lot of points. I maintain the defense is better than advertised and I remain convinced the defense overall played well and did not lose this game. However, there are some issues so let's take a look at how it fared.
The first drive of the game was definitely concerning. There is good pressure on the first play from scrimmage but the dirty plays start as well. Wimbley gets good pressure on Matt Shaub but unfortunately we have a a big spot spot in the secondary.
|Wimbley pressures Shaub|
The first drive was crossing pattern to Andre Johnson over the middle, crossing pattern to AJ over the middle, Foster right tackle, Foster left end, and then James Casey crossing pattern over the middle who ran through 3 Titans and in for the touchdown. It was Casey’s first TD of the season. It was a 7 play 77 yard drive that took 3:19 to complete.
The Texans continued to exploit that soft spot between our linebackers and the defensive backfield the entire game.
I have written a lot about the defensive line and how I think they are playing better than advertised and I continue to think so. Jurrell Casey is having an outstanding season and I hope he gets the recognition he deserves. Sen'Derrick Marks was really active this game and I noticed him several times running to the ball in the secondary. Mike Martin is also playing really well. Once again, the starting defensive ends played the majority of the snaps and there wasn't a lot of rotation. Pressure was sometimes limited on Shaub but it was there at times. Additionally, the lineman had to watch for Texans players diving at their feet like the following.
I really like our linebackers but collectively the group struggled in coverage and Akeem Ayers had his worst day as a Titan in coverage against the Texans. While he did make a few great plays it just wasn't a great performance.
Veteran Will Witherspoon who is usually a sure tackler missed a tackle at 6:00 minutes to play in the 2nd quarter and was replaced by Zach Diles who got the bulk of the snaps from that point on. I don't have access to snap counts but I don't recall seeing Witherspoon on defense at all in the second half.
Zach Diles I thought played really well. He plays with a lot of intensity and energy. Zach Brown shows his speed at times but he also shows that he is a rookie. He got completely taken out of this play.
I love Alterraun Verner's game. He is not afraid to challenge a receiver and is excellent in coverage as well as the run game. Jordan Babineaux is just a great player and one of the hardest working guys on the team whether he is on special teams or on defense. With the exception of one missed tackle he had just an excellent game. He made a crucial stop against Owen Daniel in the 3rd quarter to force a punt. Michael Griffin just has to tackle better. He did get to Shaub on a safety blitz but Shaub was able to get the pass off.
On special teams coverage Tommie Campbell has to stop doing dumb stuff. First he blocks a Texan into Darius Reynaud causing him to fumble and then he tries to tackle Beau Brinkley later who was downing the football. Unless he knocks that off he is never going to see playing time on the defense.
With the exception of the first return of the game when Robert Johnson whiffs on a tackle, we held Trinidon Holliday in check. Brett Kern had a really nice game punting and Rob Bironas returned to form.
Overall, the defense I thought played much better than credited. As a unit it gave up 24 points which isn't terrible and should be enough to win games. The score is still 14 to 7 until the first pick six by the offense. The Titans defense doesn't give up a scoring play in the 2nd quarter and doesn't give up another score until late in the third quarter.
Tackling is a big issue that everyone for the most part needs to work on but there are a lot of things to like about this group. This defense never stops fighting and effort is never at issue which is a huge break from the past and nice to see.