Friday, November 16, 2012

Sharona's Shots from Titans vs Dolphins - Defense

The theme of my look at the Titans offense versus the Dolphins was the return of Jake Locker, and a similar theme carries into my look at the Titans defense. It's no secret Colin McCarthy is the leader of the defense and that his presence makes a huge difference. Since McCarthy suffered a high ankle sprain, he hasn't been the same and neither frankly  has the Titans defense. This was McCarthy's best game of the season, and the best game the Titans' defense has played all year. McCarthy played 41 of 60 snaps, had a beautiful pick six, 3 tackles, 2 stops, 1 pass defended and 1 tackle for a loss.
The defense set a tone early on in the game, and it was clear the unit was determined to redeem itself from what happened at home versus the Chicago Bears.Having lost the takeaway battle miserably against the Bears, the Titans came out of this game with 4 takeaways. It also had 4 3 and outs and generally made life miserable for Ryan Tannehill who threw 3 interceptions. Miami manages to score only 3 points.

That stop on 3rd and 1 on the first drive by Sen'Derrick Marks and company set the tone for the game.

The defensive line has been gradually coming on and I thought Sen'Derrick Marks had one of his best games of the season. He registered his first sack of the year and was around the ball all game. He played 43 of 60 snaps and was credited with 2 tackles (1 for no gain) and 1 tackle for a loss. He also had 1 quarterback hurry and 1 stop.
The sack was really nice to watch. Marks gets set and the center takes a peak at the formation and then looks back down. Marks then takes a peak at the offensive line and gets set again.

The ball is snapped and Marks gets off the ball quickly, blows past his block, and gets to Tannehill.

So pretty.

After struggling for a few games Mike Martin was active as well and had 1 quarterback hurry, 1 tackle for no gain, and 1 stop. This stop of Lamar Miller was really nice.

The defensive ends have played well for the past several games and that didn't change significantly. Derrick Morgan and Kam Wimbley got consistently good pressure on Tannehill. Newly acquired defensive end Jarius Wynn recorded his first sack of the year, and generally the ends played very well. Morgan lead the bunch with 3 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, a pass defended and 1 quarterback hurry. 
In addition to the sack, Wynn recorded 2 tackles and 1 tackle for a loss.
I have already mentioned Colin McCarthy but I have to give some love to all 3 starting linebackers who had excellent games. Not to let McCarthy outdo them, Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown had interceptions of their own albeit not for a pick six. As a group they were simply outstanding and I cannot say enough how impressed I am with how well Zach Brown plays in coverage. I also want to give credit to the defensive coaching staff for starting to be creative with Ayers and Brown and allowing them to play to their strengths.

Ayers actually tips the pass that McCarty returns for a touchdown in addition to the interception of his own. He only plays 23 snaps but records a tackle and 2 passes defended.

Brown added an interception of his own that he returned for 47 yards. Tannehill saved a pick six by making the tackle on the play. Brown plays 51 of 60 snaps and is credited with 4 tackles, 1 pass defended

Derrick Morgan gets credited with this tackle for a loss but it is Zach Brown who makes this play on Reggie Bush on 2nd and 10 with 9:19 to go in the first quarter. To be fair, ProFootballFocus grades this as a missed tackle but if he doesn't trip Bush and slow him Morgan likely doesn't have a shot at the tackle.
Brown and McCarthy kept the middle pretty much locked down the entire game. Tight end Anthony Fasano recorded 1 reception for 4 yards which was well defended by Brown and was only targeted 3 times.
In my opinion the defensive backs are generally playing much tighter coverage and I think this makes a huge difference. Cornerback Jason McCourty returns to his playmaking ways by forcing a fumble on Miami's second offensive series of the game. He lead the team in tackles with a total of 9, and also had 1 pass defended.

McCourty did a very good job with Brian Hartline who is an excellent receiver.

Alterraun Verner is so quietly good I know he wanted badly to make this interception. He played 55 of 60 snaps and was credited with 3 tackles and 1 pass defended.

Rookie cornerback Coty Sensabaugh is going to be a playmaker for this Titans defense. In fact, he already is making plays and if he hasn't opened eyes he soon will. He has gradually assumed the nickelback position and is a mainstay in the Titans dime package. He played 27 of 60 snaps against the Dolphins, and quarterback Tannehill wasted no time in challenging him with very little success. Tannehill did manage to draw a pass interference on a call that I think was ticky tacky and could have gone either way. Sensabaugh plays tight coverage and isn't afraid to challenge the receiver.

He recorded 3 tackes and 2 passes defended. Keep an eye on the rookie from Kingsport, Tennessee as he continues to be a playmaker for the Titans.
The win against the Dolphins was a great team effort by the Titans and hopefully the momentum will continue when the team returns from its bye week to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.


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