The Tennessee Titans continue to win games in the closest of fashions. This Sunday they were able to outlast and outrun the Houston Texans on the way to pushing their record to 8-4, good enough to be at the top of the AFC South. While the wins may not be the most impressive-looking, the Titans continue to find ways to win. A key play in the win Sunday was an interception by backup cornerback LeShaun Sims on the Texans’ last drive of the game. Houston quarterback Tom Savage was aiming to get the football to his best receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, but Sims beat him to the spot and layed out for the interception, which he caught on his fingertips and tucked into his body on the way to the ground in the endzone. While the defense made a huge play and Derrick Henry shut the door with a huge run at the end of the game, there still seems to be something lacking with the Titans. The defense is solid and there is no doubt about it, but they are missing some pressure up front.
Coming into this season, the Titans had addressed issues on their team. They went out and picked a wide receiver early (wide receiver Corey Davis) in the NFL Draft along with signing veteran wide receiver Eric Decker from the Jets. They also went out and signed cornerback Logan Ryan (Patriots) and safety Jonathan Cyprien (Jaguars). Those signings definitely were a good attempt at filling the positions of need for the Titans. Some of the signings have worked well for the Titans and others have not, but one area the Titans did not address very much was the defensive line and outside linebackers. Sure, they have Jurrell Casey up front, but there are other pieces that are needed up there to help take some heat off him. Derrick Morgan and Brian Orapko were expected to be very solid as starting outside linebackers this season and potentially be one of the best outside linebacker duos in the AFC. Well, it is about to be Game 13 and the Titans are still waiting on that dynamic duo to show up and show out. As of Game 13, both Morgan and Orapko have combined for only 12.5 sacks. While that may seem good to other teams, the Titans expected more from this duo. So, what has been the issue with this pass-rushing duo?
When you watch the Titans, they bring pressure from all different angles on opposing offenses. The result is mass chaos and offensive lines trying to figure out who is coming and when. With that type of mix and match game, you would think the Titans would be getting more out of Morgan and Orapko, but they unfortunately have not gotten home enough. Instead of them getting to the quarterback, they seemed to be caught up in the wash, not exhibiting the pass-rushing skills that strike fear in opposing offenses. And given the attention that Casey gets inside, there should be more one-on-one matchups up front that should be advantageous to them. Unfortunately, Orapko is starting to look like age is catching up to him. As far as Morgan, he has always been solid but it seems like solid is just not enough.
Since they have not been able to get pressure at their normal positions, it may be time for mastermind defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to try and move them around to free them up. Lining up Morgan and Orapko in different spots on the field would not only give the offense things to think about but it would also provide the Titans a chance to potentially overload offenses and put pressure on their weak links. If that is to happen, then the Titans can become a more complete team than they are right now and hopefully some of those sacks would turn into turnovers via fumbles. Who knows at this point but what we do know is Orapko and Morgan are not necessarily getting the job done in the pressure department and that could ultimately come back to haunt the Titans should they make the playoffs.
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