Will the defense be dominant in 2008?

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In 2007, the Tennessee Titans rode the coattails of a stingy defense that made life miserable for opposing offenses to the franchise’s first playoff birth since 2003. Led by the dominating presence of Albert Haynesworth and the steady play of veteran Keith Bulluck, the Titans finished with the league’s fifth-ranked defense.
It’s been an eventful offseason for the Titans defense, which lost two players (LaBoy and Odom) to free agency while dealing with the seemingly never-ending Haynesworth contract saga.
Will this year’s defense play up to its 2007 level?

The ability to pressure the quarterback loomed large in the success of the Titans’ defense last year. The Titans will try to replace LaBoy and Odom’s 14 sacks with a combination of rookies and “The Freak“.
Jim Washburn is one of the best defensive line coaches in the business and I expect him to have the youngsters ready to contribute as early as next year. As for Jevon, his ability to produce is contingent upon his ability to stay healthy, something that he has failed to consistently do since his departure from the Titans.
A healthy Jevon= a formidable Titan defense.
As mentioned earlier, the Haynesworth contract situation has been a frustrating ordeal for all involved. However, he is likely to sign his one-year tender offer and will hopefully be motivated to earn the long-term contract he desires. Haynesworth’s presence opens things up for the Titans’ pass rush while also helping to clog the lanes for opposing runners.
Defensive line aside, I like what the Titans have going at DB and LB. We should see bigger and better things from young defensive backs Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin, two emerging playmakers who appear to be future Pro Bowlers in the secondary. The steady play of veterans Bulluck and Thornton should continue to lead the way at linebacker.
It all starts with the trenches, so the success of the Titans’ defense in 2008 will hinge on the ability of the front four to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. A rejuvenated Freak, some big plays from William Hayes and some production from Jason Jones will all go a long way towards the Titans D repeating their stellar 2007 performance.
Of course, it’s probably not realistic to expect all of those things to happen. That’s why in 2008, I envision a strong Titan defense that statistically, may not match up with last year’s D. However, I’m still expecting a top-ten performance from Jim Schwartz’s crew.
What are your expectations for the defense in 2008?

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6 Responses to “Will the defense be dominant in 2008?”

  1. JimOKC Says:

    I like our chances to remain dominant defensively this year. I think a lot of it is going to depend on how AH plays this year and if he can continue to demand double and triple team blocking. If so, I look for JK to be a big benefactor.
    Jim

  2. adam Says:

    As good as if not better than last year. Johnson & Jones will be better DTs than Starks was and make that rotation stronger. Some combination of Kearse, FIsher, Hayes, Ford, Ball will be at least as good as Odom/Laboy who garnered big paydays in FA because of the play on the other side of the line. LBs will be as good, though I would prefer to see Tullock rather than Fowler in the middle. The secondary concerns me the most – Hope’s neck, Finnegan’s hamstring, Harper’s age, and the inability of both Harper and Hill to play man. With that said, I like Fuller as the nickel and am curious to see how Cary Williams develops.

  3. jerry t Says:

    It’s all about defense, if the front four stay healthy yes
    were going to kick some butt, and the linbacker core continue their agressive play watch out AFC SOUTH,
    and all we need is for our secondary play to be better
    than it was last year along with c wiiliams learning the
    system as fast as he can i think he’s a special talent
    to be in our secondary.

  4. Nick Says:

    I think our defense will be dominant again this year, but what i don’t get is all the hype about laboy and odom leaving. I mean, weren’t these the two guys that were injury plagued and hardly saw the field for the first three years of their contract. I think the Titans have replaced Laboy and odom very well with William Hayes and Kearse. The linebacking core returns this year, which is fantastic. Adam, I would take Fowler over Tulloch, just because he proved himself last year. I like the secondary, just not Nick Harper. Honestly, I think we should have addressed that in the draft, but maybe we’ll do that next year. Harper is decent, but after having pacman, we need another shut down corner to go along with Finnegan. I believe hope will fully recover from his neck injury, and Griffin is a star safety in the making. Now, I realize why we drafted him over a wr last year, very smart choice, Coach Fisher.

  5. Myles Says:

    It all depends on Haynesworth being as good as last year. If he is, we should be the top defense in the league. We’ve got better depth at every position on the line, better depth at LB, and growing players in the secondary. As long as no one goes down with a season ender early on, we should be set.

  6. Drexel Perry Says:

    The Fowler/Tulloch debate is an interesting one, and I’ll have more to contribute to that discussion when I do the positional analysis for MLB in the coming days.
    As always, thanks for the comments and good feedback guys.

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