Finally! A halfway decent defensive performance.
Breon Borders looked like a clear upgrade over Johnathan Joseph. Derick Roberson flashed in Jadeveon Clowney’s absence. Desmond King showed up as a playmaker. And, of course, Jeffery Simmons and DaQuan Jones wreaked havoc like they have all year.
In a lot of ways, everything went right this game. Tennessee won the turnover battle, with two forced fumbles (both in the second half) including one returned for a touchdown. This was combined with what ranks as one of the worst offensive halves of football I’ve ever studied in terms of both execution and playcalling by the Bears in the first half.
That said, good defenses shut down bad offenses. While that may seem like a completely obvious statement, it’s something we haven’t seen from the Titans for most of the year. The Bears are a bad offense, but the Titans generally took care of business as expected. I’d consider that major progress for this defense.
Coverages and 3rd/4th Down
No dramatic shifts in coverage shells this week in charting. Titans ran less Cover 3 than I’ve seen to date. Success rates against these coverages are generally in line with what we’ve seen in the previous 3 games.
Now, this is a huge change. Coming into this game, the Titans were the worst 3rd down defense through seven games since it’s been tracked. Now, through eight games, and buoyed by this performance, they are only second worst. Hooray!
Joking aside, this defense did look different at times. Maybe they were coached differently this week. Maybe Nick Foles’ vertical game didn’t instill any fear. Whatever the case, playmakers stepped up in a way that’s been sorely missed by this team.
We can go round and round talking about coverages, techniques, etc, etc, etc., but the fundamental thing this team has missed on defense is playmakers. A good defense relies on opportunistic players that create impact plays in and out of structure. Lately, those plays have been sorely lacking from this defense. That wasn’t the case on Sunday.
- 3rd and 8. 0:27 in 1st quarter. Titans bring 5-man pressure against 5-man protection and a 5-wide look.
- We’ve talked before about how the pass rush has to tie to the pass coverage. This is a perfect example.
- Pass rush is quick and effective. Roberson makes a great inside move and gets in Foles face quickly.
- Meanwhile, the backend is locked in against all the receivers. Allen Robinson, easily the Bears best WR, was shadowed by Malcolm Butler most of the day.
- The stills don’t capture this well, but Foles has to wait half a tick to get this ball out because of the effective press by Butler. Pressure affects the throw, and the coverage is tight. It results in an incompletion and gets the Titans off the field.
Roberson had a great game. Really makes you wonder why he hasn’t played hardly at all this year. Nonetheless, he made the most of this opportunity. Roberson ended the game with 4 pressures, 1 batted ball, 4 tackles, and 2 defensive stops.
- 3rd down and 6. 3rd quarter. Titans bring 3-man pressure against a 5-wide look.