The Line In The Sand: Titans' D-Line Key To Cecil's Success

Lucas HendricksonCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

KANSAS CITY - OCTOBER 19:  Kyle Vanden Bosch #93 of the Tennessee Titans jogs onto the field before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 19, 2008 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

If it ain’t broke, don’t break it. That has to be the mantra of new Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil going into the 2009 season.

The completely expected departure of DT Albert Haynesworth generated the requisite amount of hand-wringing pontification, with pundits expecting the Titans’ much-vaunted D-line production to plummet with the exit of the $100 million (more or less) free agent.

To quote a highly visible college football analyst, “Not so fast, my friends.” (Side note: Get well soon, Coach Corso. Thousands of college kids eagerly await your donning a mascot head this fall.)

One stat that needs to be remembered: The Titans return 10 of 11 starters from a squad that ranked in the top 10 in the most important defensive averages per game, including second in the league in points (14.6), seventh in total yards allowed (293.6), and sixth in rushing yards allowed (93.9).

Granted, Haynesworth’s absence will be felt. The University of Tennessee product had blossomed into a fearsome run stopper, and his presence necessitated double teams that allowed linemates to generate 39 ½ of the team’s 44 overall sacks.

But new defensive boss Cecil’s playbook should remain very similar to last year’s attack plan, as Cecil’s entire coaching career has been spent under the tutelage of former DC/new Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The 4-3 will remain in place, with much more emphasis likely to be placed on shuttling players, especially linemen, in and out.

That seems to be the goal behind both the signing of free agent tackle Jovan Haye and the second round draft pickup of former Auburn standout Sen’Derrick Marks, as well as the emergence of 2008 second round pick Jason Jones. Cecil has to hope the rotation of these players, along with a hopefully healthy Kyle Vanden Bosch, will make his transition into the top spot a seamless one.

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