There are numbers that say the Tennessee Titans have a middle-class defense.
Specifically, the Titans rank 22nd in yards per game and 10th in scoring. Both placements are lower than last season.
A former NFL head coach and defensive coordinator says otherwise.
“This is a top 10 defense in the National Football League,” said Dave Wannstedt a video at The 33rd Team. “And I’ll tell you what: we’re talking about the physical strength of the Titans (Sunday), this week against the Chiefs, they showed me that mentally they are just as strong.”
Wannstedt built his reputation as defensive coordinator at the University of Miami from 1986-1988 and then with the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-1992. He later served as the head coach of the Chicago Bears (1983-98) and Miami Dolphins (2000-04) and the University of Pittsburgh (2005-10). He also managed defense for the Dolphins in 1999 and the Buffalo Bills in 2012.
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Tennessee’s 20-17 overtime loss at Kansas City on Sunday certainly gave him a long look at Tennessee’s defense.
No NFL defense has been on the field for more plays than the Titans, who faced quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his squad of guns 91 times — at least 12 more snaps than any other defense played in Week 9. The Chiefs rushed for 499 total yards — the NFL’s highest mark for the week — yet their 11.9 score was below their league-leading average going into the contest.
“Even though Kansas City was one of the highest-scoring offenses, they basically had to hold these guys down if[the Titans]were going to win this game,” Wannstedt said. “And I think they showed up. And her efforts across the board were off the charts.
“They run from sideline to sideline, and I’ll tell you what: These guys, the effort they put in … at one point in the game, the Chiefs (and) Patrick Mahomes went seven straight possessions, no points. I thought (the Titans) played brilliantly.”
The offense didn’t exactly help either. Even with overtime, Tennessee’s 48 offensive snaps tied for the least of the week. With rookie Malik Willis at quarterback, the Titans attempted fewer passes (16) than any other team this week and completed five, which was at least seven fewer than any other team.
“These defenders basically knew they were playing with one hand behind their back,” said Wannstedt. “I mean, Derrick Henry wanted to let the ball run, but with Malik Willis at quarterback, there wasn’t a passing game and it turned out that way.”
And the Titans’ defense has by and large stood the test of time.