In this morning’s (Nashville) Tennessean newspaper, writer Jim Wyatt documents the progress of second year defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil and his defense. In this article, Wyatt shows that after a rocky start in the first eight games, the defense made significant strides in the second half of the season. For example, in the first eight games of 2009 the Titans gave up 238 points, in the final eight games only 164. This translates in points per game to 29.8 being allowed in the first eight games, to a much improved 20.5 points per game allowed in the final eight games. Certainly, the 59-0 blowout loss against the Patriots in week six skews the numbers from the first half of the season, but overall the Titans improved in almost every defensive category, with the exception of sacks.
If the Titans hope to improve in 2010, their defense which ranked 28th in the league last year must improve. With many young, and unproven players on the roster this may be tough, as stalwarts of Titans defenses past such as defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, and linebacker Keith Bulluck are no longer with the team. If the Tennessee Titans truly hope to be a playoff team this season, the secondary, linebackers and defensive line must work as a unit, and develop under second year coordinator Chuck Cecil.
To this point the identity of the Titans defense seems unknown, as injuries have plagued the defensive line, as well as secondary. Currently, defensive line starters William Hayes and Jovan Haye are both suffering from knee injuries, which are expected to keep them from playing or practicing for at least 2-4 weeks. Rookie first round defensive end Derrick Morgan has only participated in one day of training camp, due to a nagging calf injury which will sideline him at least through the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks this weekend. In the secondary, Cortland Finnegan has been out of practice for the better part of a week now due to what is being described as a hip injury.
Fortunately for the Titans, there are so far no major injuries for the Titans defense, but at the same time an injury is an injury, and many key components of the 2010 Titan’s defense are not getting valuable reps in camp. If this defense is going to truly improve, veterans such as Stephen Tulloch, Michael Griffin and Cortland Finnegan need to take charge of a defense in need of an identity. This team’s identity last season as proclaimed by Cecil was VIOLENT, this year it should be confident. As Jet’s coach Rex Ryan proclaimed on Hard Knocks last night, "We know we’re better than you. We don’t give a f**k if you know it or not."