Jason Jones and 4 Other Tennessee Titans Who Might Switch Positions in 2011
The Tennessee Titans are under new management: a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator, a new defensive coordinator, and new coaches for both the offensive and defensive lines.
Now that the management finally has a chance to talk to players, we'll soon see a new offensive and defensive system emerge. In the new system, a lot of players will end up playing different positions on the field.
Here are the five players most likely to be changing positions in 2011:
1. Leroy Harris, LG
New Position: Center
Harris had a pretty poor showing in the 2010 season, but was re-signed by the Titans to a two-year deal. One reason that the Titans said they wanted to re-sign him was his versatility and ability to play either guard or center. That sound like a hint to you?
Last year, Eugene Amano, the former left guard, took most of the snaps at center and offensive line play suffered. Both Munchak and new offensive line coach Bruce Matthews are confident that their guys can improve from last year. What they may have in mind is switching some of that line around.
Whether you blame Amano for not playing center well or Harris for not playing left guard well, the offensive line missed a beat somewhere. Expect switches to be made in 2011.
2. Eugene Amano, C
New Position: Left Guard
Speaking of switches being made, I think Harris moves to center and Amano moves back to guard. There's a decent chance that it could happen this year.
OK, so this isn't really much of a change for Amano. He'd be returning to the position he played in for some time before last year. The good news is that he played left guard much better than he played center last year. The bad news is that means the Titans will have yet another new center to break in.
While Harris may or may not play center better than he did guard, we know how good a guard Amano is, and I think this is a move that would significantly improve interior line play for the Titans. The Titans had the No. 1 offensive line in the country in 2008, and run blocking was good enough in 2009 that Chris Johnson was able to run for 2000 yards. Amano started at guard both of those years.
Having him return to his old position would be great.
3. Byron Stingily, T
New Position: Guard
OK, this one might be cheating a little bit, since Stingily is an unsigned rookie, but the Titans are no strangers to playing low-pick linemen early (Amano was a seventh rounder who played in 15 games his rookie year).
Stingily played tackle in college, but I think his place with the Titans is at guard. Stingily is a little tall for a guard, standing 6'5" tall, but with Tennessee's bookend tackles both standing 6'7" tall, I don't see his height being a problem for a line that's already tall. The reason I think he is built to be a guard more than a tackle is Tennessee's depth chart.
Tennessee has one of the best tackle combinations in the league with Michael Roos and David Stewart, along with very good backup Mike Otto and developmental tackle Troy Kropog, all of whom are pretty young. There are a plethora of guards/centers on the roster, but as is common knowledge, the Titans guards have not been that good as of late.
The Titans almost always take their linemen late in the draft: Roos was picked in the second, Harris in the fourth, Amano in the seventh, Scott in the fifth and Stewart in the fourth. Stingily, drafted in the sixth, would fit right in to the trend.
4. Jacob Ford, DE
New Position: Outside Linebacker
Jacob Ford is a great athlete with a high motor. At the combine, he recorded the second fastest 40 time among all defensive ends. However, he is small for an end, standing 6'4" and weighing only 251 lbs. What makes his size worse is the fact that the Titans have said they'd like to get bigger at defensive end.
Everyone assumed that since Ford was the smallest end on the roster and wouldn't fit into the new defensive scheme, he'd be ignored by the Titans. However, he was re-signed by the Titans sooner than Ahmard Hall or Dave Ball, and was paid about the same amount of money as Ball, who registered seven sacks last year.
Why would the Titans do this? Because Ford won't be playing at end. The Titans want to get bigger, not only at end, but in the entire front seven, and have hinted that they may even line up in the 3-4 if it fits. 3-4 outside linebackers need to be bigger than your average LB, and a 251 lbs Ford fits the bill. Being fast doesn't hurt either, which Ford just happens to be.
I expect that he was signed to a one-year contract as an experiment. If he works out, then expect the Titans to suddenly have a great linebacker corps with Akeem Ayers lining up next to Barrett Ruud at the other two spots.
5. Jason Jones, DT
New Position: Defensive End
Jason Jones has been the only quality defensive tackle on Tennessee's roster since the departure of Albert Haynesworth, but like Jacob Ford, he's a little undersized (276 lbs) to play defensive tackle in Tennessee's new "bigger is better" scheme. You know what position he's perfect for size-wise? Defensive end.
The Titans have already hinted that they plan on letting Jason Jones get snaps lining up at end, but I think it won't be long before he completely takes over at the defensive end spot.
Jones played at end in college, and was not converted to tackle until he signed with the Titans. Even as a tackle, his best attribute was his ability to rush the passer, an attribute essential to ends. He has accumulated 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in just 18 starts with the Titans. In fact, his only real problem as a tackle was being prone to injury. Not lining up between 330 lb. bruiser linemen every down ought to help him stay healthy.
He is built to play as a defensive end and should play as a defensive end, and I think before long, he will play at defensive end.
With the plethora of tackles on Tennessee's roster (including newly signed Shaun Smith and rookie Jurrell Casey), Tennessee will line up Jones at end an awful lot in 2011, and I think he'll succeed.