Tennessee Titans: NFL's Newest Version of "No-Name" Defense Has Underdog Mindset
"We're a bunch of no-name guys trying to make a name for the defense as a whole, guys working together and trying to get better as a unit," said Titans cornerback Jason McCourty.
McCourty is heading into his second year in the NFL and is currently a starter after being selected in just the seventh round in last year's draft.
Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Winston-Salem State, and Samford are all colleges represented by players on the Tennessee Titans defense.
The Titans starting lineup is scattered with "no-name" players.
McCourty and Colin Allred both went to schools whose football team doesn't have a Top-25 vote.
Tony Brown and Jason Jones came from less prestigious Division 1 non-BCS schools.
Cortland Finnegan, William Hayes, and Jacob Ford each attended small D1-AA colleges.
Seven out of eleven of Titans starters fall into one of those three categories and 61 percent of every defensive player on the roster.
Sure, having a defense with only three Pro Bowl appearances combined isn't going to send chills down any opposing offensive coordinators spines, but there are two ways to approach having a "no-name" defense.
The first way is the most common path taken by less star-studded NFL defenses.
Defenders play on their heels with their number one goal in mind being not screw up. Don't miss the tackle, don't get beat deep.
The end result of that type of play is always a loss.
The second and final option is to use the fact that the defense is loaded with unknown talent.
Players must play with a chip on their shoulder.
That task is no problem for guys like Cortland Finnegan who were not only passed over by every Division 1 school, but also disregarded by each of the other 31 teams in the NFL on draft day as he was selected in the seventh round.
The Titans have ten defenders on the roster that didn't attend a college whose football team is considered in the BCS.
Using the all disrespect as fuel while playing with an underdog mentality, the Titans defense can end up being part of the winning formula for 2010 instead of holding the team back.
If anyone knows how to bring an unrivaled intensity to the gridiron it's Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil.
Cecil is one of hardest hitters in NFL history, if not the very best. Though his squad struggled in his first season at coordinator, it takes time to adjust to a new coaching position just like it does for players transitioning from college to the pros.
Hunger is the key. If Cecil leads a hungry band of soldiers into battle Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders and throughout the season, the Titans defense will surprise people.
Muhammad Ali once said, "Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even."
The players on the Titans defense know what it's like to be defeated.
Many have been underestimated and ignored since their days in high school.
Others felt what it's like to be on top in 2008, and then be forced to face failure over and over again on film each week in 2009.
The Titans defense isn't expected to succeed this season. They are being labeled the weak link.
It all comes back to those two choices.
The defense has come to a fork in the road. They can take the easy, lay down and be entertained watching Chris Johnson play from the sidelines, or they can step up and turn this team from a pretender to a contender.
Bet against the spread and take this Titans defense. They are ready for the challenge that waits ahead of them.
McCourty ended his interview saying, "No one knows my name. We're trying to step up and make a name for ourselves in the NFL."
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