When the Tennessee Titans faced teams last season that could throw out two-tight end sets of any receiving consequence at them, it was bad news for this secondary. Tennessee finished 26th in pass defense last season but that number could’ve easily been worse if they weren’t routed from the get-go as often; their Pro Football Focus pass coverage grading placed them at 29th in the league for 2012.
The addition of strong safety Bernard Pollard doesn’t seem like something that would remedy this issue, as his specialty is to bring more of a thumping presence at or near the line of scrimmage, but the Titans think his skills along with Michael Griffin and fellow strong safety signing George Wilson could help them role out three-safety packages at a high frequency.
“When you hear those guys talking out there, they’re talking like coaches talk, they’re making adjustments,” Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, via The Tennessean. “When players take over like that, you’re only going to get better. …. When you play teams that have really good tight ends, you have to find a way to match up because these guys can block and they can run. We’ve been running a couple different packages where we have all three guys in the base defense and some where we have all three guys in our (substitute) package. That’s only going to help us down the road.”
Perhaps the three together in this scheme could limit opponents, but their individual PFF coverage grades for 2012 don’t inspire a ton of confidence. Out of 88 qualifying safeties Griffin finished 87th and Pollard 59th, while Wilson does skew up the average at eighth and perhaps could be the key for this three-safety package clicking in coverage, as it did for the New York Giants in their Super Bowl year with Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant.
“Every team is different,” Pollard said, via ESPN. “This is a very athletic team, this is a very, very smart team. Now it’s about putting the product together on the field. They signed me here for a reason. Screw what the naysayers got to say, screw what everybody else got to say. I’m healthy right now, ready to go. I think our team is going to be a force to be reckoned with. At the same time we’re floating under the radar and this is where we need to be. We have a very talented team but at the same time, we still have some things to learn.”