The shoddy play at the safety position played a key role in the Tennessee Titans’ defensive struggles in 2009. Often caught out of position and failing to provide stellar support as the last line of defense, starting safeties Chris Hope and Michael Griffin had uncharacteristically bad seasons last year.
In 2010, a better performance from the safeties would likely contribute to an overall better effort from the Titans’ defense as a whole.
Will the safeties step up their games this year? The answer to that question and more…after the jump.
Will the real Michael Griffin please stand up?
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Michael Griffin over the last couple of years. In 2008, we witnessed the best of times, with Griff accounting for 7 interceptions and emerging as one of the game’s better safeties. Unfortunately, 2009 ushered in the worst of times, with Griffin experiencing his worst season as a pro.
Overcoming some undisclosed personal issues while also having a healthy shoulder, Griff appears to be poised to recapture his 2008 glory. Hopefully, that will be the case because another bad year from Griff will undoubtedly lead to yet another struggling performance from the defense overall.
Chris Hope: Veteran leader
Hope had an off-year in 2009, but his performance was still better than Griff’s. With veterans such as Keith Bulluck, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse vacating the premises, besides playing solid football at the safety position, Hope will be relied upon as a leader due to him being one of the defense’s elder statesmen.
Hope has been a solid pro for years, so I’m expecting him to have a quality season while also providing veteran leadership to a defense that’s undergoing a bit of a youth movement.
The Veteran backups
Vincent Fuller is a highly versatile player who also serves as the team’s nickelback. Fuller’s been one of my favorite players for years and regardless of what he’s asked to do, I’ve come to expect a solid effort from him.
Donnie Nickey has survived in this league due to his special teams’ abilities. While the team’s decision to draft some youth could eventually spell doom for his tenure in Nashville, I’m expecting Donnie to yet again earn a roster spot due to his special teams’ prowess.
Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle was selected by the Titans in the sixth round of this year’s draft. He’s undoubtedly one of training camp’s best stories, due to his off-the-field achievements and his on-the-field desire to prove the critics wrong.
A bit overshadowed by Rolle despite being drafted in the round before him, fifth-rounder Robert Johnson has some ball-hawking/playmaking potential. He’s a bit raw, but I’m definitely intrigued by his athleticism.
Selected in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, Nick Schommer is likely facing an uphill struggle to make the team. A bum hamstring during the early part of training camp isn’t helping his cause, either.
Due to their past successes, I’m chalking up Griffin and Hope’s poor 2009 as an anomaly: I’m expecting both players to get back to playing good football.
As for the backups, Fuller will continue to play his role as the team’s Mr. Versatility, Nickey should stick around another year and despite their potential, the rookies will primarily play roles on special teams during their first seasons.
Your turn, guys: What are your thoughts on how the Tennessee Titans stack up at the safety position?