2012 Tennessee Titans Snap Report: Defense

After yesterday's post on how many snaps each offensive player played, it's time to turn my attention to the other side of the ball and look at the defense.

As I did with the offense, I took an interim look at the bye week at how much each defensive player played in the first ten games of the 2012 season. We got a bit of an idea of some trends at that point. The Titans did not make a change at coordinator during the season, so I won't be able to engage in the same exercise I did yesterday and see how changes in leadership changed things. Then again, with Jerry Gray returning for another season, there's a chance the trends we saw in 2012 might actually continue into 2013.

As I did when I covered the offense and in the bye week report, I will go position by position.

 

 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%)
12-aJAC x x 60 (94%) 4 (6%) 61 (95%) 3 (5%)
13-vHOU x x 55 (75%) 16 (22%) 37 (51%) 25 (34%)
14-vIND x x 52 (74%) 7 (10%) 45 (64%) 25 (36%)
15-vNYJ x x 60 (90%) i 53 (79%) 20 (30%)
16-aGB x x 62 (79%) i 61 (78%) 23 (29%)
17-vJAC x x 59 (80%) 11 (15%) 60 (81%) 19 (26%)
Total 38 (4%) 53 (5%) 914 (81%) 168 (15%) 911 (81%) 124 (11%)

Well, contrary to my prediction at the bye week, Jarius Wynn avoided the Spinal Tap drummer fate and not only did not spontaneously combust but played a moderate amount. After playing only 9 snaps in the Dolphins game, I thought he'd be like Keyunta Dawson and Pannel Egboh, a rarely-used fourth defensive end. Dawson and Egboh, in the games they played, played about 14% of the time. Wynn, on the other hand, played in 26% of the snaps in the games for which he was active.

Of course, with Scott Solomon's playing time remaining relatively consistent over the course of the season, those extra snaps for Wynn had to come from somewhere. That somewhere was mostly from Kamerion Wimbley. After playing 80% or more of the snaps in nine of the first eleven games, only once in the last five games did he exceed that mark. It wasn't quite so reflexive as that, but over the final five games, the Titans had 362 total defensive snaps, and Wynn and WImbley combined for 368 snaps. Considering Wimbley's lack of stoutness at times as a run defender, I'd be surprised if this was anything other than a tactical move. If you're wondering, it seemed to have either no or a negative effect on Wimbley's pass rushing producitivity, as he had 1.0 sacks in those last five games after 5.0 in the first eleven.

What it says about Pannel Egboh that Jerry Gray was discussing him not too long before the season as a third starter, that he was cut at the end of the preseason, that he was re-signed after Dawson went on IR only to be cut for Wynn, and that Wynn played a fair bit more in the same sort of role is left as an exercise for the reader, as is what that sequence says about Jerry Gray.

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%)
12-aJAC 60 (94%) i 3 (5%) 60 (94%) 5 (8%)
13-vHOU 60 (82%) i 8 (11%) 58 (79%) 19 (26%)
14-aIND 41 (59%) i 15 (21%) 51 (73%) 28 (40%)
15-vNYJ 49 (73%) 12 (18%) 3 (4%) 53 (79%) 14 (21%)
16-aGB 52 (67%) 15 (19%) 7 (9%) 54 (69%) 26 (33%)
17-vJAC 45 (61%) i 27 (36%) 47 (64%) 30 (41%)
Total 781 (69%) 67 (6%) 248 (22%) 678 (60%) 428 (38%)

The pecking order here is even clearer than it looks, as Sen'Derrick Marks in the 14 games he was healthy played 69% of the snaps, or basically just as much as Jurrell Casey played (Casey's total is slightly depressed by the Steelers game). It seems like Mike Martin played a good amount, but a substantial chunk of his overall playing time came in the two games Marks missed and that Steelers game Casey was injured. Limiting him to the games where both players were healthy and available, Martin only played 32% of the time. He played that role in those games, but will the Titans commit to giving him that increased workload?

If you'd asked me before actuall running the numbers, I would have guessed Karl Klug played about 15% of the time. Yes, he played a lot more some games than others, but overall his playing time was that of a fourth defensive tackle best used situationally. WYSIWYG.

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%)
12-aJAC 34 (53%) 57 (89%) x 64 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
13-vHOU 55 (75%) 71 (97%) x i 42 (58%) 31 (42%)
14-aIND 39 (56%) 57 (81%) x i 24 (34%) 46 (66%)
15-vNYJ 50 (75%) 63 (94%) X I 47 (70%) 22 (33%)
16-aGB 48 (62%) 70 (90%) x i 41 (53%) 39 (50%)
17-vJAC 73 (99%) 62 (84%) x i 12 (16%) 1 (1%)
Total 860 (76%) 739 (65%) 68 (6%) 385 (34%) 224 (20%) 388 (34%)

To save space and present a cleaner look, I once again left out Xavier Adibi and Patrick Bailey. Adibi was added to the roster after Week 7 when Zac Diles went on injured reserve. He was active for 6 games and inactive for 3 games. He did not see any snaps on defense in the games he was active. Bailey spent the entire season on the active roster. He was active for 12 games and inactive for 4 games. He played 2 snaps on defense all year, both Week 2 against San Diego.

It was already starting to be pretty clear by the bye week that Zach Brown had arrived and, barring injury, was there to stay, including in the nickel package. Nothing happened in the final six weeks of the season to change that idea. Over the final nine games, he played 88% of the snaps compared to only 63% for Akeem Ayers.

How frequently Ayers played was a function of whether he was in the nickel package. He was early in the season, then the Titans made Brown the WLB in the nickel and his playing time dropped off. Brown is clearly much better suited to be a nickel cover linebacker, physically, so I was very much on board with this change.

I noted that Tim Shaw and Will Witherspoon were basically trading off the MLB duties with Colin McCarthy out. Shaw played MLB in base personnel and Witherspoon did so in the nickel. Once Brown took over, that was the only way Witherspoon got on the field. Would he have gotten on the field at all if Zac Diles had not gotten hurt? The first Texans game suggests Shaw would not have been the one on the field, while Witherspoon still may have played in the nickel.

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%)
12-aJAC 0 (0%) 64 (100%) 5 (8%) 33 (52%) 62 (97%)
13-vHOU 0 (0%) 73 (100%) i 18 (25%) 73 (100%)
14-aIND 0 (0%) 70 (100%) 9 (13%) 45 (64%) 68 (97%)
15-vNYJ 0 (0%) 67 (100%) 0 (0%) 20 (30%) 67 (100%)
16-aGB 7 (9%) 78 (100%) i 41 (53%) 78 (100%)
17-vJAC 52 (70%) 74 (100%) i 63 (85%) 31 (42%)
Total 68 (6%) 1125 (99+%) 386 (34%) 311 (28%) 1045 (92%)

The shift in nickelback is completely apparent in this table. Ryan Mouton played double-digit snaps in the first eight games, and only once thereafter. Meanwhile, Coty Sensabaugh only played double-digit snaps once in the first eight games, then did so in the final eight games. Looking at them as one player, the primary nickelback played 55% of time over the course of the season, while the backup nickelback played 74 snaps, just a few more than Tommie Campbell.

I still have no explanation for Tommie Campbell. We'll see what happens this offseason. My guess is that, as is normally the case, nothing actually changes.

Jason McCourty missed one snap against the Chargers, I believe at the goalline against a heavy set. I want to say the snaps he sat against the Vikings was the final series, the one where the Vikings tried to kneel things out and Mike Munchak called timeout and didn't let them.

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%)
12-aJAC i 40 (63%) 64 (100%) 25 (39%) 0 (0%)
13-vHOU 8 (11%) 65 (89%) 72 (99%) 17 (23%) 0 (0%)
14-aIND 8 (11%) 70 (100%) 70 (100%) x 0 (0%)
15-vNYJ 19 (28%) 51 (76%) 67 (100%) x 0 (0%)
16-aGB 60 (77%) 18 (23%) 78 (100%) x 0 (0%)
17-vJAC 74 (100%) 0 (0%) 74 (100%) x 0 (0%)
Total 234 (21%) 766 (68%) 1114 (99%) 278 (25%) 4 (0+%)

Remember the Ruby package? I swear it was a thing. Jerry Gray talked about it. I even wrote a post on it back in May, before the season started. It was this 3-2-6 personnel set, and Gray wanted another safety who fit the bill. I'm not sure if Al Afalava was the guy Gray was looking for or not, but it seemed to play a much less prominent role in the defense than I thought it might.

The Titans did run three safeties some of the time-they gave 2396 snaps to safeties last year, 138 more than if they'd had precisely two on the field on any given play. I don't have total defensive personnel breakdowns available, at least as of right now, but I'd guess half of those times the safety was in a big nickel or a base 4-1-6 dime set rather than Ruby.

If I had to pick one word to describe Jerry Gray's safety usage in 2012, it would be "searching." I noted at midseason that he began the year with what semed like an experiment, that Michael Griffin was not a great free safety and should be paired with more of a free safety type in Robert Johnson. That didn't work out so well, and it was back to Griffin at free safety and Jordan Babineaux at strong safety. Against the Bears, and then at the end of the season, Gray gave Al Afalava a shot at the strong safety job instead of Babineaux, hoping for a better solution. That went kind of okay against the Jaguars, not so well the previous week against the Packers.

Tracy Wilson was a special teams player only.

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