There are some numbers that really stand out to me from last season: 1080, 32, & 128
1,080 - The number of plays that the defense played during the regular season, which is roughly 68 snaps per game. That was the 2nd most in the league behind the Arizona Cardinals. The average team in the NFL played 1,017 snaps last season, so the Titans defense practically played one more game than the average team. Our division rival, the Houston Texans, played the 2nd least amount of snaps, 960 (just under 60 per game). So in reality, our defense played two more games in a season than the Texans on a per snap analysis. This leads me to our next number...
32 - The Titans defense is on the field for an average of 32:11 per game, the third highest total in the league. Now these last two numbers do not necessarily reflect just the defense. Other factors play a huge role in them. Chris Johnson and company could score on a quick strike waisting no time to put points up on the board, or they could have gone three and out too many times on offense. Regardless of the reasoning, this number MUST go down in order for the Titans to have a chance at a playoff birth.
128 - Rush defense used to be a specialty by the Tennessee team, but last season they ranked 24th in rushing defense allowing an average of 128.3 yards per game. The Titans were slashed by Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX), Johnathan Dwyer (PIT), Arian Foster (HOU), Ben Tate (HOU), & Donald Brown (IND). The downside is that we will face those same teams again in 2012-2013, with all but Pittsburgh being a division opponent. I would also like to remind everyone of Curtis Painter also rushing for 79 yards at home against the Titans (yes, Curtis Painter of the Colts), but they mostly came in the 4th quarter while in a prevent defense.
Here are some other numbers I came across...
The Titans are 18th in the NFL allowing 355 yards per game, 227 of them being through the air.
They allowed 19.8 points per game which ranks them 8th in the NFL.
The Titans are tied for 9th in defensive third down percentage with 41%. To me, the is somewhat a surprising statistic. I personally felt that the Titans could not ever get off the field on 3rd down, so I really feel for the other 22 teams that think the same thing. The reason it seemed that way to many of us is because the Titans had opponents in 3rd down more than any other team in the league. So even though we gave up a lot of big plays on 3rd down, we also had a bunch of stops.
So what does this defensive unit need to do to improve on those numbers?
Grow together as a unit and someone step up and be a vocal leader. Let's not forget, this is a very young defensive team. The Titans lost their star cornerback to the Rams and now are expecting instant improvement from McCourty and Verner. They also will have the youngest starting linebacker group in the NFL. But one positive is the defensive line is getting bigger, and we could possibly even see more 3-4 than 4-3 this season.