Titans sign SS Bernard Pollard

The Tennessee Titans added another man to their defense on Thursday, signing strong safety Bernard Pollard. Pollard started 13 games each of the past two seasons for the Ravens, but Baltimore released him at the start of the new league year last week. It's reported to be a one-year deal.

Pollard is perhaps best known for his injury-causing hard hits, most notably on Tom Brady. As a player, he's a box safety, a hard-hitting run defender but somewhere between decent and abysmal in space. Good athletic tight ends will be able to take advantage of him, and he's no more than adequate for a strong safety in a two-deep look. Think of him as an undersized linebacker, which is the job the strong safety performs in a cover-3 look.

As to where he fits on the Titans, he's a younger player than George Wilson, not turning 29 until late this coming season, and the likely starter at strong safety. In that role, I'd say he's a slight upgrade from what Jordan Babineaux did in pass coverage in 2012, but the bigger difference will be in the run game. Pollard ranked second on the Ravens in tackles on run plays last year despite missing three games, and it was more than the linebackers; he's legitimately a factor there, and a very physical player who brings an element to the Titans they didn't have last offseason.

Whither Wilson then? The obvious answer is that Gregg Williams plays a lot of 3-2-6 and uses safeties as a rusher, Wilson and Pollard are both strong safeties, they'll be playing and rushing. I think that's actually overcomplicating things, though. Yes, we probably will see some 3-2-6. One thing Jerry Gray has done a lot of (too much, probably, in my book) has been to bring on extra defensive backs. The result, too often, has been the Titans getting gashed in the run game. A Pollard-Wilson combination gives the Titans the ability to play some Big Nickel, bringing on the extra defensive back Jerry Gray likes to have but at the same time improving the Titans against what they (rightly) identified as a major weakness last season and something opposing teams definitely recognized and exploited. Beyond that, having both Pollard and Wilson gives the Titans quality depth at the strong safety position, something they needed and lacked last year.

My guess is this move likely means the Titans are done with major additions at safety this offseason. The Titans are apparently still looking at run-stopping defensive ends, with the names Israel Idonije and Ropati Pitoitua being mentioned. They may also still be looking for a wide receiver, but Nate Washington's job appears safe for now.

Quantcast