Skip to main content
Titans Linebacker Rashaan Evans on the NFL 17-Game Schedule

Titans Linebacker Rashaan Evans on the NFL 17-Game Schedule

Updated:
Original:

The Extra Point: Titans, Rashaan Evans, Ready to Find Out if Defense has Really Improved

Tennessee may have added Julio Jones, but the primary focus of the offseason was on improving the defense, especially on third downs.

With Derrick Henry plowing down opponents and Julio Jones added into the mix, most of the talk surrounding the Tennessee Titans during the offseason was understandably about the offense. 

But it's what happens on the other side of the ball that will likely determine the team's overall success this season.

Tennessee's defense wasn't very good last season, when the Titans had fewer sacks than all but two teams and allowed opponents to convert 51.9 percent of their third-down opportunities.

So, naturally, some changes were made. Per All Titans, the franchise invested a lot to sign free agent outside linebacker Brad Dupree, but three-quarters of the starting secondary will be different. Not included among that group are Matthias Farley and Elijah Molden, two cornerbacks selected in the first three rounds of this year’s draft.

Dupree won’t have to do it alone. Coaches hope that that combination of defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons and Denico Autry, another notable free-agent addition, will provide a push up the middle that either gets to the quarterback or opens up additional rush lanes for Dupree and Harold Landry, the team leader in sacks each of the last two years.

The changes should also help the man in the middle, former Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, who is in the final year of his rookie contract

Heading into the regular season, with Tennessee opening against Arizona on Sunday, there are three notable reasons for some optimism. 

1) Stability. 

The defense has had a year under defensive coordinator Shane Bowen. 

“Last year was already crazy enough, COVID and all those different things, and Shane coming in and being our defensive coordinator,” Evans said. “There was a lot of different things that were changing and moving. Now that we have another year, just a year under our belt, now going into some of the things, the schemes that he’s trying to run and things he’s trying to do, we have a lot more confidence now.”

2) The defense is becoming more aggressive.

It begins with communication, and the players say it's better this season. 

Read More

“Last year I feel like we were pretty terrible as far as challenging receivers, being tight," safety Kevin Byard said. "It was a big thing where we were playing off on third-and-7 or whatever, guys is nine yards off, stuff like that. That has been a big difference this year, but we’ve got to go out there and put it all together when real ball starts.”

Finally, 3) Third-down defense has looked better.

Both during practices and the preseason the players say there's been a noticeable change that showed some of the progress. 

“I think it’s that sense of urgency,” Evans said about the difference. “I think each individual person on the defense feels that we can be a lot better from last year. I think going from practice and doing the things that we’re doing in the preseason, you see the results.

"Like I always say, the consistency and the things that we’re doing, it has to transition into the regular season.”

The Extra Point is a regular feature on BamaCentral, and often includes video and other elements from our FanNation partners. Other recent segments include:

How Close is Marlon Humphrey to Being the NFL's Best Cornerback?

Amari Cooper Back With Cowboys and Looking to Silence his Critics

How Will Jimbo Fisher's Quarterback Fare, Hold Up vs. Alabama?

Jedrick Wills Jr. in Great Position to Get Even Better with Browns

Former Alabama Safety Eddie Jackson a Player to Watch This Season

Alabama's Biggest Breakout Candidate in the NFL This Season is ...

O Captain! My Captain! the Call for Many former Alabama Players

With Derrick Henry plowing down opponents and Julio Jones added into the mix, most of the talk surrounding the Tennessee Titans during the offseason was understandably about the offense. 

Member Exclusive

Get Exclusive Access to Bama Central Content