The Front Seven
Defensive lines can set the tone for a game, under the correct situation. After the 2016 season, Pro Football Focus ranked the Titans defensive line as the 13th best in the NFL. The front-seven definitely did their part during the season. The Titans pressured opposing quarterbacks at the eighth-highest rate in the NFL that year. You should expect nothing less from a Dick LeBeau defense. The Titans front-seven was poised to have an even better year going into 2017.
2017 was an excellent year for the Titans front-seven. They absolutely man-handled most offensive lines. Although they had the 6th fewest rush attempts against, they made the most out of it. Any year where you only give up 5 rushing touchdowns is a great year. Now combine that with the fact that the Titans only gave up 88.8 rushing yards per game, and that’s a recipe for success. The Titans defense allowed the fewest “big runs” of the 2017 season. The Titans only gave up 3 runs that went 20+ yards, and 0 runs of 40+. In fact, the longest run the Titans gave up was a 34 yard run to Todd Gurley in week 15. It came on a simple outside zone rush and would have been stopped sooner had Johnathan Cyprien taken a better line.
Along with stopping the run, the Titans front-seven did a great job at pressuring the quarterback. According to PFF, the Titans front-seven pressured the quarterback on 240 plays. This was good enough to be tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for 9th place. Naturally, being in 9th places leaves plenty of room for improvement, but this is great none-the-less. If we’re honest, the Philadelphia Eagles were in a league of their own, with 35 more pressures than anyone else. So, we’ll just move the Titans to a tie for 8th place. The pressures undoubtedly contributed to the 43 sacks the Titans amassed in 2017, tied for 5th in the NFL.
Look for the Titans to continue to improve, as they drafted a multi-dimensional linebacker, Rashaan Evans and edge rusher Harold Landry. Both players with significantly help this Titans defense and allow them to be even more creative going forward. IF, yes it’s capitalized, Harold Landry can stay healthy, look for him to have a tremendous impact on that front-seven. There is a lot to look forward to in Nashville, you don’t have to look hard to see the progress the Titans have made. With that said, my grade for the Titans front-seven in 2017 is an A-minus. They have room to improve, but we should not let that take away from what they accomplished. It’s only going to improve from here #TitanUp.