The Tennessee Titans have been looking to get younger and faster on the defensive line and Jadeveon Clowney would complete that makeover.
While many were amazed by what Derrick Henry was able to do during the Tennessee Titans’ magical postseason run, the defense was equally as effective. Not only did that unit go into New England and essentially put an end into one of the most accomplished dynasties in the history of sports but they were also able to contain the league’s MVP, Lamar Jackson, in his own stadium.
That tenacious defense ultimately came to a halt when they were daunted with the task of trying to stop the most prolific passer in the game, along with his staple of lightning-quick weapons.
Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs offense exposed a lot of holes in the Tennessee defense during the AFC Championship Game and it’s obvious general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel are looking to fix those holes.
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But when you watched that AFC Championship game there was one glaring deficiency in particular between the two teams that played heavily into the Chiefs’ favor: overall team speed.
This offseason, the Titans decided to trade franchise staple Jurrell Casey to the Broncos for just a seventh-round pick. Considering how much money was freed in the move, one has to wonder if the team is indeed gearing up to add Jadeveon Clowney into the mix. In a recent conference call, Robinson also officially confirmed the team’s interest in the star EDGE defender.
Once you really look into it, that’s where you can see what the end goal is for Robinson and Vrabel with or without the potential addition of Clowney. The priority so far this offseason has been a youth movement for the defensive front in hopes of getting faster and more athletic. In that same conference call, Robinson had this to say about the edge position:
"“It is somewhat of a younger group if you will, but it’s an athletic group that has some speed,” general manager Jon Robinson said. “I think the depth of that position is pretty good right now. It doesn’t mean we won’t add somebody, but I feel pretty good about where we’re at from a depth standpoint.”"
While Casey was a fan favorite, its always better to rid of a player a year early rather than a year late, especially when that player carries a cap hit of about $12 million. Casey’s play was on a mild decline after nine years of disrupting opposing offenses, often only getting in the backfield on designed stunts.
In Casey’s place, enter Jack Crawford, the defensive lineman signed away from the Atlanta Falcons. While Crawford is actually a year older then Casey, he possesses more of that speed/explosion element the Titans have been looking to add. Casey has always been a great run stuffer with fantastic short-area quickness that helps him dominate on those stunts I mentioned earlier.
But plays like the one below is what the interior of the Titans’ defensive line has been missing:
Then the Titans also decided to part ways with veteran EDGE defender Cameron Wake after one season. Wake has had a storied career, tallying over 100 sacks. Although he was only able to accumulate 2.5 sacks this past season (all in Week 1), he was mainly let go to open up a spot for the faster, more athletic Vic Beasley.
Beasley may be a somewhat risky add but his addition continues with the theme of getting faster up front:
Plays like the one above remind you how much of an asset Beasley’s speed would have been in the AFC Championship Game as Mahomes was able to do whatever he wanted too with his legs, not just his arm.
It’s clear there is no timetable on when Clowney is going to make a decision. While I don’t believe it’s in the team’s best interest to remain completely stagnant while waiting on a decision, I do believe the team should do almost whatever they can within their power to attain his services.
You shouldn’t have to bank on your defensive lineman making plays like this one but it’s the sort of playmaking that can take the Tennessee defense from good to great.
Many wonder where Clowney would even fit into the fold with Beasley and Harold Landry already manning the edge spots. The truth is, Clowney could line up almost anywhere in the Titans’ defensive front.
In Vrabel’s lone year as the defensive coordinator, Clowney was making plays lined up almost anywhere. If it was any of the spots along the defensive line or even as an off-ball linebacker, the former South Carolina Gamecock’s presence was felt all over the field. That season also just happened to be a career year for Clowney.
According to recent reports it’s between Tennessee and returning to Seattle for Jadeveon Clowney. If he chooses to reunite with Vrabel, look for a dominant defense in Nashville next season. This new-look defensive front should be a lot of fun to watch for Titans fans.