Coming to the defense of Titans’ Shane Bowen, whose defense left much to be desired

By John Glennon

Only days after the Green Bay Packers fell a win short of reaching the Super Bowl, head coach Matt LaFleur announced that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine – whose unit had finished ninth overall in 2020 and 13th in points allowed – would not return for the 2021 season.

“It’s always a tough decision,” LaFleur said, “but (we) just needed some new leadership on that side of the ball.”

That same day, Titans coach Mike Vrabel chose the opposite path, announcing that outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen – who’d held the responsibilities of defensive coordinator in 2020 – had been promoted, giving Bowen the actual defensive coordinator title moving forward.

That decision was understandably met with a torrent of social-media backlash, as the Titans had only recently completed a horrendous defensive season. The Titans’ D finished last in the NFL in sacks and third-down percentage, 31st in TD passes allowed, 30th in red-zone percentage, 28th in yards allowed and 24th in points allowed.

Opponents scored 30 points or more five times in 16 contests against the Titans, with the 4-12 Houston Texans piling up 74 points in two games versus Tennessee.

So just how did that avalanche of ugly numbers lead to a better title for Bowen, even if the defense did put together a respectable playoff showing against Baltimore?

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