Disciplined Titans' defense not prioritizing sacks, turnovers

HOUSTON – Brian Orakpo said something last week that got me thinking.

“Individual guys are not having the previous success that they’ve normally had, me being one of them,’ he said. “But it doesn’t take away from what we’ve done defensively, collectively.”JacksonPickTexans

Heading into Monday Night Football against the Texans, no one on the 5-5 Titans’ defense is having a very good statistical season. [Unlocked]

Tennessee is second in scoring defense and second in red-zone defense, and that keys everything. The Titans are eighth in first downs allowed and ninth in totals yards.

But the team numbers after that are not very good. The Titans are tied for 19th on third down, they are minus-3 on giveaway-takeaway, they have just six interceptions, they have taken away three fumbles and have 23 sacks, more than only eight teams had through 10 games.MDILogo2

"I get that so many people get caught up in stats,” Mike Vrabel said. “We have to get caught up in winning. That's really the only thing that matters. That's the most important thing. I've noticed and said and commented on numerous examples where guys have done that.

"We didn't let the quarterback scramble because we were reckless with the rush. We've played a lot of mobile quarterbacks. There are a lot of things that these guys are doing that we appreciate. Sure, the more plays we make, the better that we are. But, executing a plan is something we certainly appreciate them being focused with and trying to do….”

“I don't ever want to (deny) them of going and making plays, but we have certain things that require a certain responsibility that guys try to handle on every given call. They know it and execute their job. Once they do that, make as many plays as you want. Just do it within the scheme and don't try to hurt the team. I think sometimes that's the last thing you would ever want is to try to do something that would hurt the team but help the individual.”

In 10 games, the Titans sack leader, Jayon Brown, has 4.5. The Titans interception leaders (Adoree’ Jackson and Kevin Byard) have two each.

While the record is disappointing, the ability of the defense to fare so well at keeping people out of the end zone and clamping down in the red zone without forcing turnovers and sacking the quarterback is rather impressive given the lack of sacks and turnovers.

"I said at the start of the year, if I don't have the amount of picks that I had last year, I'll be fine as long as my other teammates are balling and we're doing great on defense," Byard said. "A lot of different numbers as far as turnovers and sacks, we don't have those flashy numbers, But we are good in scoring defense. That's one thing we are doing well, playing good fundamental defense, not letting teams score in the red zone playing well on those critical downs.

apple icon 114x114 precomposed"I think it means you've got a lot of unselfish players. You don't see a guy not getting sacks going outside the defense doing stuff they aren't supposed to be doing... If they need me to be over top of DeAndre Hopkins and double team him so they can throw the ball to another guy and he can make the pick, I'm cool with that."

I do think this is a very disciplined, unselfish defense.

But it needs to do more than it's doing, and that would be forcing some turnovers and crushing some drives with some sacks. Tonight would be an excellent time for some of those to show up.


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