Pro Football weekly

Comment | Print |

Despite solid start, Titans have room to improve

About the Author

Recent posts by Arthur Arkush

Colts add OT Cherilus, CB Toler

Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:31 p.m.

Bills bring back McKelvin

Posted March 09, 2013 @ 1:45 p.m.

Saints re-sign Galette

Posted March 09, 2013 @ 1:31 p.m.

Steelers part ways with OLB Harrison

Posted March 09, 2013 @ 12:40 p.m.

SS Moore is staying with the Falcons

Posted March 09, 2013 @ 9:36 a.m.

Related Stories

Titans agree to terms with DE Pitoitua

Posted March 25, 2013 @ 2:46 p.m.

Titans make twin killing; sign OG Levitre, TE Walker

Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:39 p.m.

Titans OLG Hutchinson retires after 12 NFL seasons

Posted March 12, 2013 @ 5:17 p.m.

Tennessee Titans: 2013 team needs

Posted March 08, 2013 @ 9:49 p.m.

No tag for Cook ups ante for Titans as FA approaches

Posted March 07, 2013 @ 2:56 p.m.

Titans sign SS Wilson

Posted Feb. 22, 2013 @ 5:04 p.m.

Titans add Steve Hoffman to coaching staff

Posted Feb. 18, 2013 @ 7:32 p.m.

Freeney's exit latest example of Colts' sea change

Posted Feb. 16, 2013 @ 3:24 p.m.

Williams apologizes for Saints' bounty scandal

Posted Feb. 07, 2013 @ 4:57 p.m.

Williams gets reinstated, joins Titans' staff

Posted Feb. 07, 2013 @ 12:07 p.m.
Posted Oct. 14, 2011 @ 3:30 p.m. ET
By Arthur Arkush

The Titans enter their bye week as one of the more surprising teams in the league.

On defense, coordinator Jerry Gray has engineered a dramatic turnaround. His impressive work disguising pressures and putting his players in the right places has made Tennessee one of the league's stingiest units. The Titans have received significant contributions from three rookies — SLB Akeem Ayers and DTs Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug — in addition to a number of veterans, all of whom are still learning Gray's system. No player has been more impressive than CB Cortland Finnegan, the team's defensive MVP through five games, according to a team source.

"He has been the linchpin of the unit," the source said. "Jerry is moving him around a lot, bringing him on blitzes out of the slot. He is playing great football."

The source also singled out DE Derrick Morgan, who continues to get stronger each week, and WLB Will Witherspoon, who has had made a number of big plays.

Although the defense has made great strides, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

"Third-down defense and big plays through the air plagued us the past two seasons," the source said. "We have cut down on the explosive plays, but third-down efficiency needs to improve."

The Titans' "D" ranks tied for 31st in the league in that category, with opponents converting 35-of-75 third-down attempts (46.7 percent).

Offensively, QB Matt Hasselbeck has been "the catalyst."

"Remember, Matt couldn't practice for the first eight days because of the CBA (B.S.). But you could tell from his first snap; the command, the tempo, guys getting to the line … He's operated great in games. He's dealt with the loss of his best receiver. He's done it all."

And he has done it all with the club's greatest strength — the ground game — grounded through five weeks.

After getting the big-money deal he desired, RB Chris Johnson has lacked decisiveness and explosion, gaining only three yards per carry. The O-line, while dominant in pass protection, has been ineffective in creating space.

Repairing the running game is priority No. 1 for the club during its bye week.

"Everybody has a part [in the struggles]," the source said. "The O-line, the backs, the tight ends — the whole unit has been subpar. We need to get synced up, everyone working better on a consistent basis."

Follow Arthur Arkush on Twitter

Comments ()


ABOUT TRUST ONLINE