FanPost

Blame the "Wide Nine"

Even Tennessee is doing it!

Under former head coach Jeff Fisher, defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil and defensive line coach Jim Washburn, the Titans employed a scheme focused on pressuring quarterbacks. The basic philosophy was that the defense could stop the run on the way to getting to the quarterback.

Under Munchak, defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and defensive-line coach Tracy Rocker, there has been much more of an emphasis on stopping the run, something the Titans didn't do well last season.

"Last year's attitude was more like, 'Don't care about nothing -- just go,' " defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "Now we know a lot about what's going on and we pay attention a lot. We hold our gaps and stay committed. Nobody gets out of line and nobody gets out of place."

[Full article after the cut]

Keep in mind that the Tennessee Titans had MLB Steven Tulloch who averaged 10+ tackles per game last year.  Even with such a strong presence at MLB, the Titans are putting a lot of blame on the scheme that Washburn's D-line ran.  I would argue that Tulloch makes the Wide Nine work well enough that the pressure on the QB offsets the poor Run D.  But the Eagles are in even worse shape without a probowl MLB.

Do we blame Juan Castillo for allowing this mismatch to happen?  Or do we blame Reid/Howie for hiring Washburn when we have no LBers to run the system?  How do we fix the problem?  Do we just pretend it's not a problem and blame Juan Castillo for not executing regardless of the mismatched scheme/personnel problems?

People will argue that last week's game was an all around break down of the defense with fail pass coverage being more disgraceful.  I would simply rebuttal that it was the Run D that lead to this.  If you have Safeties and CB's making tackles and worrying about the run then how can they focus on their job?

Am I the only person who thinks Asante Samuel ranking 3rd on the team with 15 tackles is blasphemy????  The DE's are so far down the field and the LBers are all in the wrong gaps or out of position.  It's not rocket science... the Wide Nine puts these players in the wrong places to tackle runs and short screens.  This is a game of inches and Washburn is putting our players yards away from the play on the ball.

Quite honestly, I think the easiest way to solve this problem is to do what Tennesee did..  bye-bye Washburn.

The quote is from an article by John Glennon of the Tennessean that was posted on 10/6/2011 and has been removed (not sure why).  I would've posted it as a Fan Shot, but I can't link to it since it's deleted.  Here's the full article copied from Google's Cache.

In retrospect, the Titans may have flashed the new personality of their defense as far back as the first series of the first preseason game.

That's when Toby Gerhart, the Vikings' 231-pound running back, hammered into the line on third-and-1, only to be stuffed for no gain.

"It was our first game under the new system, the first time we had a chance to see what we'd been practicing the whole camp," defensive end Derrick Morgan said. "We put it to work right there and guys started believing."

The belief that the Titans' defense could win the line of scrimmage in short-yardage situations has only grown over the first quarter of the season, despite a rough start in the opener against the Jaguars.

Through the first four games, the Titans (3-1) rank among the top 10 teams in the league in third-and-one and fourth-and-one situations, showing marked improvement over a group that was run over all too often last season.

Most importantly, the defense has risen to the occasion when it mattered most, using short-yardage stops as big momentum boosts.

"Week in and week out, different guys are making plays, it seems like, on third-and-one or fourth-and-one," Coach Mike Munchak said. "We almost thrive to get in that position because we have found a way to come up big in those positions since preseason games.

"You would rather it would be a third-and-10 every time. But if we get stuck in third-and-one or the situations we've had, at least we're seeing that that's what good defenses do."

Under former head coach Jeff Fisher, defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil and defensive line coach Jim Washburn, the Titans employed a scheme focused on pressuring quarterbacks. The basic philosophy was that the defense could stop the run on the way to getting to the quarterback.

Under Munchak, defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and defensive-line coach Tracy Rocker, there has been much more of an emphasis on stopping the run, something the Titans didn't do well last season.

"Last year's attitude was more like, 'Don't care about nothing -- just go,' " defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "Now we know a lot about what's going on and we pay attention a lot. We hold our gaps and stay committed. Nobody gets out of line and nobody gets out of place."

The results of a bigger and more run-oriented group were especially noticeable in critical situations against the Broncos and Browns.

Trailing in the fourth quarter, the Titans turned away the Broncos on four straight plays from inside the 3, finally taking over on downs after Morgan stopped Willis McGahee for no gain at the 1.

With the Browns driving for a potential tying score in the second quarter, the Titans slammed the door on consecutive third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 plays.

During the latter, safety Michael Griffin was in perfect position to stop Armond Smith, who tried to surprise the Titans with an off-tackle run.

"On plays like that, it starts up front because the (line) has to make sure they line up right, don't flub the snap and go offsides, and then get off right when the ball is snapped," linebacker Will Witherspoon said.

"The 'backers have to make sure we hit the gaps well and the back end has to do their job also. If there's a little pop pass or something like that, they've got to be prepared."

The ability to outmuscle opponents when distances are measured in a matter of inches has not only been a game-changer for the Titans, but also a morale builder for a defense that was shoved aside on many occasions last season.

The Titans finished 26th in the league in third-and-short (3 yards or less) situations in 2010.

"More confidence? It's like this: He's a grown man and I'm a grown man," Marks said, describing the line-of-scrimmage battle on short-yardage plays.

"If I can stop him from moving me, I feel like I'm better than him as a man on that play. For yardage like that -- when he knows what the play is and I don't, when he knows what the snap is and I don't, and I'm still able to kick his butt so he doesn't get any movement -- it makes me feel pretty good about myself."

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