Chuck Cecil: Growing pains or growing concerns?

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The winds of change blew tremendously during the offseason for the Tennessee Titans. While everyone focused upon the departure of Albert Haynesworth, former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz also left the building to coach the winless Detroit Lions.

With “The Schwartz” no longer with the Titans, former NFL badboy Chuck Cecil was named as the team’s new defensive coordinator. Lauded for his damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead approach to playing the game, many were hoping that Cecil would put his stamp on a Titans’ defense while not missing a beat in spite of Schwartz and Fat Albert vacating the premises.

Not so fast, as Lee Corso often says. Cecil’s troops are ranked dead-last defending the pass, as opposing receivers have often run wide-open like cheetahs in the wilderness.

Is Chuck merely experiencing growing pains, or should we be increasingly concerned about his ability to run the once-formidable Tennessee Titan defense? 


Chuck Cecil’s new career has got off to a rough start, to say the least. Despite some early success against the Steelers in Week One, he was criticized by many for his decision not to bring the heat against Ben Roethlisberger in the latter stages of the Titans’ opening-night loss.

The wheels totally fell off against the Texans last Sunday. The Titans’ defense made Matt Schaub look like Peyton Manning as the former Titan whipping boy passed for 357 yards and 4 touchdown passes. On far too many occasions, the likes of Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones and Owen Daniels made catch after catch with little resistance from Cecil’s defense.

Why is Chuck having so many problems despite the presence of numerous Pro Bowlers on the Titan D?

Some consider the aforementioned loss of Haynesworth as the reason behind the defense’s early struggles. While the team is doing a great job of stopping the run, some may come to the conclusion that Fat Albert’s presence is felt the most against the pass, as opposing signal-callers no longer have to stare in the teeth of the up-the-middle pass rush that Albert brought on a consistent basis.

If you listen to Nick Harper, it’s a lack of adjustments that’s sealed the fate of the Titans’ defense thus far. In his recent comments, he alluded to the Texans running successful routes on one side of the field and then doing the same thing on the other side, without the Titans making any kind of adjustments.

Here’s my take on the team’s defensive struggles…

Losing Albert hurts, but there is no way your going to convince me that a secondary that consists of Michael Griffin, Chris Hope and Cortland Finnegan should be looking this bad. On too many occasions, your seeing guys biting on play-fakes, covering the guy running the shorter pattern while leaving the receiver running deep wide-open, etc.

I’ll take Jeff Fisher’s word that contrary to Nick Harper’s beliefs, adjustments are being made on the defensive side of the football. However, all of the adjusting in the world isn’t going to make any difference if you fail to execute.

What I’m seeing with my set of eyes is a defense that is not executing, in particular, against the pass. There are too many mental errors being made by players who shouldn’t be making them this consistently. 

Of course, players should be blamed for mental mistakes but in the big picture, that’s a key indicator of a poorly coached unit. Either the guys are tuning Chuck Cecil out, they are poorly prepared or a combination of the two.

According to Keith Bulluck, the Titans defense will get things turned around, starting this week against the Jets:

“The defense that played last Sunday, I hope everybody got a good glimpse of them because they’ll never show up again this year I guarantee that,” linebacker Keith Bulluck(notes) said Wednesday. “We’re definitely going to get back to the basics, the defense that we’ve played here the last 10 years I’ve been here starting Sunday.”

For Cecil’s sake, let’s hope that #53 is right. 

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7 Responses to “Chuck Cecil: Growing pains or growing concerns?”

  1. Will Says:

    The Jets game will tell us everything we want to know about the Titans and their defense. Can the D force rookie sensation Mark Sanchez to make critical mistakes. Can they continue to stuff the run and keep Thomas Jones and Leon Washington in check? Containing Washington, who’s as dangerous as Chris Johnson, is especially important.

  2. Scott Says:

    I tend to agree with you Drex. No doubt the loss of Albert has had an impact, as has the change of co-ordinators. I would expect it to take time for everyone to adjust to these changes, and with one lucky bounce in either of the first two games the Titans wouldn’t be in the current hole and the concern about the defence wouldn’t be as great. It is funny, but your comment about Cecil being criticized “for his decision not to bring the heat against Ben Roethlisberger” reminded me that Schwartz was often criticized by fans (including me) for taking that same approach in the latter stages of games when the Tiatns had a lead. So maybe things haven’t change too much.
    I also think that the DBs need to look themselves in the mirror to find the real culprits for the defence’s poor showing in the first two games. There are three pro bowlers out there, and they are biting on fakes, playing out of position and making bad decisions. With the talent he has in the secondary, Cecil should be able to leave anyone of those guys out there on an island and expect success 9 times out of 10. I am a little worried that their heads got a swelled last year with all of the accolades thrown at them for their individual efforts, and they forgot that this is a team game and everyone must filfill their role for the team to succeed.

  3. David H... Says:

    Adversity builds character. Lets see what the Defense is made of. I think it was a combination of bad individual fundementals and communication breakdowns. This is the week to fix it, going against a Rookie QB. He’s not Joe Namath, no matter how good he’s played thru two games. I say throw the kitchen sink at him. And keep Leon Washington from making too many big plays.

  4. Drexel Perry Says:

    It’s definitely put up or shut up for the Titan defense this Sunday against the Jets.
    As always, thanks for dropping by with your thoughts guys.

  5. beedee Says:

    Sure hope they find some answers…last weeks game was awful. Bad ref’s aside, our defense rarely put themselves in a position to succeed. I honestly could not figure out who i was watching. Missed tackles and missed assignments.
    Let’s get after these Jersey d-bag’s and return the humiliation they heaped on us at our own house!

  6. will Says:

    get rid of cecil now, i want a refund for what i had to pay for tickets and witness sunday. the defense looked like the lions… maybe fisher could coach the defense himself or convince cowher or gruden to take the job lol

  7. Dave Says:

    I’m from Jersey and I’m a Titans’ fan. I also don’t think that I’m a d-bag….so, yeah…how about not being a d-bag yourself? GO TITANS!!!

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