On Titans' very good defense, resurgent DaQuan Jones a bit of a forgotten man

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When DaQuan Jones strolled around one of the Titans’ practice fields with me in early September, he didn’t want to blame his 2017 biceps injury for his 2018 season, but he admitted it had been a big factor.

This year, Jones has been a solid piece of the Titans’ high-quality defense, which ranks fourth on third down and fourth in points allowed.


In his sixth season, Jones is again playing the way the team imagined he could under Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees as a strong force inside. He works as a base-defense nose tackle and has been inside with Jurrell Casey for a lot of nickel snaps.

But with Jeffery Simmons in action for 21 snaps in the win against the Chargers, the Titans were able to shuffle a quality, fresh trio through the middle of the line on important downs.

While Jones stands to lose work in nickel because of Simmons, it doesn’t lessen the fact that he’s having a quality bounce-back year. And perhaps less will be more and his workload dips some.

“I think he’s playing with confidence in kind of what the scheme is and what the adjustments may be, I think he’s playing with confidence in his technique and his pad level,” Mike Vrabel said. “But I also think his effort is very good. There are a lot of plays where the ball may get on the perimeter and you may just discount a nose guard or someone that is on the interior, he’s made some plays where he’s run down the ball or been involved in the play.

“I appreciate his leadership and appreciate his toughness in the time that we’ve been here.”

Jones has 20 tackles and a sack and his 12 pressures are second on the team behind only Jurrell Casey.

“I think it’s gone pretty well so far, I think I am playing pretty solid inside,” Jones said. “I’ve got to keep getting better and improving each week. That’s my mindset and how I’ve been approaching each week, really keep focusing on the fundamentals.”

I thought Jones might feel some sense of relief that he was right about 2018 being largely a product of the biceps recovery, but he said that’s not the feeling he’s left with.

"I'm kind of playing angry because I let a year go and you can't get those back in the league your film is your resume," Jones said. "It left a real bad taste in my mouth."

Dave McGinnis of Titans Radio said on Midday 180 Jones has really refined his technique with better leverage, staying lower, shooting his hands to get inside leverage and work his hands and feet together. Those are things McGinnis saw from Simmons in his debut. 

Jones said he's not taking any positives when the Titans lose. But he is willing to pause and say he feels as if he's done reasonably well individually especially when looking back at last year. 

“If we don’t win it really doesn’t matter how I play,” he said. "If we win and I go out there and I do my job and make sure I’m not getting pushed back, it’s a win. I feel like I am doing a hell of a job at the nose this year just anchoring down and not getting knocked back, getting my hands in the guy’s chest."Simmons has brought a sense of excitement to the whole defense, but it certainly is biggest with those he has been in meeting rooms with and who he will now work most closely during practice and in games.apple icon 114x114 precomposed

“I think they are looking forward to whatever rotation that ends up being,” Vrabel said of the defensive line. “You’d like to think that you can get guys covered up and then free guys up but that’s always based on how they are protecting.

"We’ve only had 21 plays in there with Jeff to get a feel for how he’s going to run the game or how are we going to run this blocking scheme and that’s something these guys will work on.”

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