This week, the Las Vegas Raiders look to finally get themselves in the win column. A disappointing 0-2 start has many fans worried, but ironically, the team they’ll face this week is in the same boat. The Tennessee Titans, last year’s No. 1 seed in the AFC have also gotten off to an 0-2 record. One of these teams will find themselves with their first victory of the year on Sunday, but the other will see a shocking 0-3 mark. The Raiders’ offense will need to get off to a good start this week. Here’s a breakdown of the good, bad, and ugly of the Titans’ defense they’ll be facing.
Honestly, there hasn’t been much. Tennessee played a solid defensive game in Week 1 against the New York Giants, limiting them to just 21 points. However, in Week 2 they were absolutely thrashed by Buffalo. That may speak more to the level the Bills are on, but the fact of the matter is that Buffalo was able to do exactly what they wanted, whenever they wanted on offense.
The good that is there exists in a few key players on the Titans’ defense. First, we have Jeffery Simmons. The Titans run a 3-4, so they rely upon a lot of production from those three defensive linemen. Simmons is more than they could have hoped for on the edge. Tennessee also has Kevin Byard, who’s been an important player for many years in Tennessee in the secondary.
The bad? Let me show you the Titans’ pass defense. Again, it should be considered that they played a very impressive Bills team, but the pass defense has looked shaky at best through two games.
In the clip above, the Titans are running a Cover 2, with the safety on the bottom of the screen showing a blitz, until backing out into coverage at the last second. This is done to confuse the quarterback, but it seems on this play that there was a miscommunication with the Titans’ defense instead. One of the linebackers on this play, (likely the MLB, but it could be any of them on this play) has the responsibility of covering the deep-middle part of the field.
For some reason, none of them do. Josh Allen recognizes that and fires a strike down the middle of the field for a gain of nearly 30 yards. Miscommunications like this have been very common for Tennessee through their first two games. Their linebackers and the secondary just haven’t been on the same page. That’s something the Raiders will need to take advantage of this week.
If there’s one word that could accurately describe the Titans’ run defense, it’s ugly. It’s not like the talent isn’t there, because there is some talent on their front seven. What’s plagued this defense in the run department is mostly bad tackling and being in poor position.
The play above showcases all of these issues. This is a down and distance, so it’s not really fair to criticize the Titans for being out of position here. It’s entirely possible that the Bills were going to pass here, but Allen saw the open box and checked into this zone run.
So, what’s ugly here? First, the Titans’ defensive line makes absolutely no push. The Bills move defenders out of the way with ease. When watching the play, you’ll notice a hole big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through. The only guy on the line that even had a chance at making this play was the player being blocked by the tight end, and all he could manage here was an arm tackle.
Then, once the running back gets to the second level, notice number 37’s attempt at the tackle. He does a decent job of squaring up to the runner, but his pad level is far too high on the tackle. He also keeps his head down, and the combination of that and his pad level makes it easy for the running back to spin off of him for about five extra yards. Poor position, a lack of effort, and poor tackling has plagued the Titans’ defense.
*Top Photo: Will Newton/Getty Images