Tennessee Titans Need Michael Griffin To Bounce Back in 2010

Taylor WrightContributor IJune 12, 2010

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 23:  Kick returner Michael Griffin #33 of the Tennessee Titans returns a kick against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on November 23, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

So many questions come to mind when I think about Michael Griffin.

Is he as good as I thought he was? Can he repeat his 2008 season? Do the Titans have a problem at what was once one of their more secure positions?

The safety is a team's last line of defense—if you look at successful defenses, they probably have a good safety.  It's a sometimes underrated, but a necessary position to have talent at.

In 2008, I was amazed by the Titans 13-3 season. I was even more amazed by Michael Griffin.

In his second season, he had 75 tackles, 11 pass deflections, and seven interceptions.  He had become one of the most feared safeties in the league.  He was all over the field, more of a heat-seeking missile than a ball hawk.

I even started to compare him to the great Ed Reed.

However, I did not ever expect what happened in 2009.  The Titans started out 0-6 and had one of the worst pass defenses in the league.  One of 2008's best pass defenses became a quarterback's paradise.

Sure, the Titans lacked a consistent pass-rush and Harper had a drastic decline in his play, but I was still shocked.

When I go back and look at the stats and game footage, I realized that Finnegan and Hope still held their ground—so what was wrong?  Griffin, who I thought was the Titans' most talented DB, was having a terrible year compared to what we all expected.

Now, if you just look at Griffin's stats you might say, "Well, that's an alright year," but if you watched a game you might see something else.  Multiple times he seemed to be out of position and looked very inexperienced.

Whether it was a double move or simply falling for a play action, Griffin seemed like a different player.

Some people have written him off as a one-year wonder, but I think differently. I think that he is the same player from 2008, but he got stuck in a bad situation.

First off, Harper was completely useless last season. When he was injured, the defense looked good, but as soon as he healed, he brought back trouble. He just looked out of shape and struggled just to keep up with opposing receivers.

Consider that for some reason Finnegan only plays on one side of the field, so Harper consistently got destroyed by Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. The safety's job is hard enough; throw in an open receiver on every play and there's trouble.

Second, the Titans really underestimated Big Al's presence. Okay, he might not have been great for the Redskins, but he was irreplaceable. You can't just hope to replace a guy who demands triple-teams and destroys pockets.

When no one stepped up on the D-line, opposing quarterbacks had forever to find an open receiver.  In a division with Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub—heck, even David Garrard picked them apart—a steady pass-rush is a must. 

Even the greatest DB can't cover someone forever.

Consider all this and the fact that Griffin is somewhat inexperienced, and you can't blame him.

In my opinion, Griffin suffered most from his past success.  In 2008, he was able to run all over the field and make plays.  In 2009, he probably tried too hard to make plays and hurt his effectiveness.  Most people would have preferred him to just sit back and stop the deep ball.

Griffin still has a lot to learn and had a big learning experience last season, but I would consider him as big a defensive threat to any team in 2010.

Even the best players have that off-year. Maybe Griffin's just came early and we can expect success the rest of his career.  Griffin has proved that he is a big playmaker and can succeed in the Titans system.

Griffin has another season to practice and fix his problems.

Consider that Griffin had more than a handful of problems in 2009 and still ended the season with some promise.  The duo of Hope and Griffin should return in 2010 and other teams shouldn't underestimate them.


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