Titans Bye Week Snap Report: Defense

As promised, it's the follow-up to yesterday's post looking at snap counts by position through the bye week. I covered the offense, which means it's time for the other side of the ball today. There aren't many positions quite as static as there were on the offense, plus even at those there's been some changeover as the year as gone one.

Defensive End

 

Game K.Dawson P.Egboh D.Morgan S.Solomon K.Wimbley J.Wynn
1-vNE 9 (13%) x 58 (87%) 9 (13%) 58 (87%) x
2-aSD 26 (32%) x 50 (62%) 31 (38%) 56 (69%) x
3-vDET 3 (3%) x 78 (81%) 22 (23%) 88 (92%) x
4-aHOU x 13 (22%) 49 (82%) 10 (17%) 48 (80%) x
5-aMIN x 17 (25%) 56 (81%) i 61 (88%) x
6-vPIT x 7 (11%) 55 (86%) 11 (17%) 58 (91%) x
7-aBUF x 2 (3%) 56 (92%) 7 (11%) 57 (93%) x
8-vIND x 4 (5%) 63 (83%) 13 (17%) 65 (86%) x
9-vCHI x 10 (14%) 58 (84%) 11 (16%) 60 (87%) x
10-aMIA x x 43 (72%) 16 (27%) 43 (72%) 9 (15%)

The Titans' fourth defensive end is basically a Spinal Tap drummer. Keyunta Dawson was up first, then he went on injured reserve. Pannel Egboh was up, and now he's on injured reserve. Jarius Wynn has played one game, and how he'll probably spontaneously combust or somethiing.

The San Diego game looked weird at the time, what with Morgan and Wimbley playing so much less than they did the first time, and it looks even more anomalous eight weeks later. That the Titans got destroyed on the ground the second half of that game was apparently all Jerry Gray needed to see from the Titans' backup ends, and the revolving door at DE4 has done nothing to change his mind there.

Defensive Tackle

Game J.Casey D.Harris K.Klug S.Marks M.Martin
1-vNE 48 (72%) 2 (3%) 42 (63%) i 35 (52%)
2-aSD 56 (69%) 32 (40%) 23 (28%) i 52 (64%)
3-vDET 51 (53%) i 31 (32%) 48 (50%) 40 (42%)
4-aHOU 46 (77%) i 12 (20%) 39 (65%) 23 (38%)
5-aMIN 49 (71%) 3 (4%) 16 (23%) 37 (54%) 31 (45%)
6-vPIT 13 (20%) i 15 (23%) 42 (66%) 48 (75%)
7-aBUF 45 (74%) 3 (5%) 6 (10%) 37 (61%) 29 (48%)
8-vIND 59 (78%) i 21 (28%) 50 (66%) 19 (25%)
9-vCHI 66 (96%) i 4 (6%) 59 (86%) 8 (12%)
10-aMIA 41 (68%) i 15 (25%) 43 (72%) 21 (35%)

The rotation isn't quite as defined at end as it is at tackle, but it's still relatively clear. Casey and Marks are your starters, while the other players are backups. Martin got a bunch of extra snaps when Casey got hurt in the Steelers game and held up fairly well, though not all his performances have been nearly that strong. As for DaJohn Harris, I can only hope he's being groomed to take over Sen'Derrick Marks' spot next year, as Marks is a free agent. Meanwhile, with how much of Sunday's game in Miami was played with a good sized lead for the Titans, I'm a bit surprised Klug didn't get more snaps than he did. The Dolphins' general lack of activity the second half contributed to that. I guess they like playing their starters a certain number of snaps.

Linebacker

Game A.Ayers Z.Brown Z.Diles C.McCarthy T.Shaw W.Witherspoon
1-vNE 63 (94%) 8 (12%) i 27 (40%) 1 (1%) 42 (63%)
2-aSD 75 (93%) 54 (67%) 6 (7%) i 6 (7%) 71 (88%)
3-vDET 92 (96%) 6 (6%) 9 (9%) i 0 77 (80%)
4-aHOU 54 (90%) 45 (75%) 35 (58%) i 0 25 (42%)
5-aMIN 63 (91%) 38 (55%) 9 (13%) 60 (87%) 0 0 (0%)
6-vPIT 58 (91%) 27 (42%) 0 (0%) 64 (100%) 0 0 (0%)
7-aBUF 56 (92%) 7 (11%) 9 (15%) i 16 (26%) 29 (48%)
8-vIND 36 (47%) 56 (74%) x 73 (96%) 3 (4%) i
9-vCHI 41 (60%) 67 (97%) x 56 (81%) 13 (19%) i
10-aMIA 23 (38%) 51 (85%) x 41 (68%) 19 (32%) 5 (8%)

To save space and present a cleaner look, I left out Xavier Adibi, who played 0 his first two games after being added to the roster when Diles went on IR after Week 7 and was inactive last week, and Patrick Bailey, who played 2 defensive snaps in San Diego Week 2 and has been inactive four times.

One of the big questions in the offseason was what the Titans would do with the linebacker position in sub packages. Both nickel linebackers from last offseason, McCarthy and Ayers, were returning. Jerry Gray had talked a lot about how he wanted to use Ayers as a stand-up rusher in nickel situations. Would that be as one of the linebackers in a 4-2-5 nickel? Would that be as a rush backer in a 3-3-5 look? A rusher in the Ruby (3-2-6)? Or as a defensive end?

Ayers began this season mostly how he ended it, as a primarily cover linebacker in the base 4-2-5 nickel. As Zach Brown has had more responsibility put on his shoulders, Ayers has seen his snap total diminish, but has played some-not a lot, but some-as a rush end. He did it last year at times, too, picking up a sack against the Panthers that way. I don't have a count for just how often he's done that, though.

With Brown's emergence, Will Witherspoon doesn't have much of a role to play on the team. It is what it is.

Cornerbacks

Game T.Campbell J.McCourty R.Mouton C.Sensabaugh A.Verner
1-vNE 0 (0%) 67 (100%) 59 (88%) 2 (3%) 63 (94%)
2-aSD 0 (0%) 80 (99%) 19 (23%) 4 (5%) 73 (90%)
3-vDET 0 (0%) 96 (100%) 87 (91%) 13 (14%) 96 (100%)
4-aHOU 0 (0%) 60 (100%) 15 (25%) 0 (0%) 60 (100%)
5-aMIN 4 (6%) 66 (96%) 31 (45%) 3 (4%) 64 (93%)
6-vPIT 0 (0%) 64 (100%) 37 (58%) 1 (2%) 61 (95%)
7-aBUF i 61 (100%) 53 (87%) 4 (7%) 60 (98%)
8-vIND i 76 (100%) 44 (58%) 6 (8%) 75 (99%)
9-vCHI 0 (0%) 69 (100%) 8 (12%) 31 (45%) 59 (86%)
10-aMIA 5 (8%) 60 (100%) 19 (32%) 27 (45%) 55 (92%)

No, i don't have an explanation for Tommie Campbell any more than you do. The only potentially good answer is they don't like Alterrun Verner in the slot at all. This isn't completely implausible. Gray moved Cortland Finnegn to the slot last year for a reason, and it helped solidify the middle of the field coverage. The question then, is what happened between the start of training camp and the start of the regular season to change this? Did you really learn valuable things about Verner's play in the slot that weren't apparent from his play on tape the first two seasons? If it was more Campbell's play, then maybe when the Titans have been playing dime (and they have been playing some dime), they could put Campbell outside and Verner in the slot. Hasn't happened. I struggle with Jerry Gray at times, and this is one of those times.

That said, I was one of, I thought, the relatively few people who tried to keep Ryan Mouton's name alive in the offseason when pretty much everybody else had written him off. He's far from a great slot corner, and there's a reason he's not playing slot (or too much of anything else) now. I need to spend some more time watching Sensabaugh to figure out how he's really playing; maybe this weekend, more likely not.

Safety

Game A.Afalava J.Babineaux M.Griffin R.Johnson T.Wilson
1-vNE 0 (0%) 15 (22%) 64 (95%) 65 (97%) x
2-aSD i 18 (22%) 81 (100%) 76 (94%) x
3-vDET i 96 (100%) 96 (100%) 18 (19%) x
4-aHOU 0 (0%) 57 (95%) 60 (100%) 9 (15%) x
5-aMIN 4 (6%) 66 (96%) 59 (86%) 22 (32%) x
6-vPIT 3 (5%) 64 (100%) 64 (100%) 12 (19%) x
7-aBUF 18 (30%) 43 (70%) 61 (100%) 12 (20%) x
8-vIND 4 (5%) 74 (97%) 75 (99%) 17 (22%) 0 (0%)
9-vCHI 36 (52%) 33 (48%) 69 (100%) 1 (1%) 0 (0%)
10-aMIA i 56 (93%) 60 (100%) 4 (7%) 4 (7%)

Jerry Gray started the season seeing something I saw, that it wasn't obvious (a) Michael Griffin was actually a good fit at free safety in his scheme that liked to have a playmaker in the deep middle of the field or (b) Jordan Babineaux absolutely had to be on the field. As I wrote about with Tommie Campbell, though, while these things were far from completely obvious, they were difficult to square with what the Titans did in the offseason, namely paying Jordan Babineaux reliable contributor-type money and Michael Griffin top safety-type money.

In either event, it took two games for things to go back to being like they were last year, for better or for worse (hint: it wasn't necessarily clearly better). Of course, Babineaux lately started to see the field a little bit less. Yes, the wrist injury seemed like it might be the case against the Bills, but then he lost time again in the Bears game. Of course, Al Afalava then got hurt, because he's Al Afalava. We'll see what happens to Babineaux as the year goes on. Most likely, nothing will change.

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