We’re only two games into the season thus far, but the Tennessee Titans defense has been a bit of a surprise so far this year.
Last season, the Titans’ defense was less than stellar. And that’s putting it nicely. Tennessee was torched on multiple occasions in 2015, and they allowed the sixth-most points per game in the NFL. But so far this season, that defense has looked surprisingly better.
Are there still issues that plague this unit? Of course, there are. The secondary still isn’t up to par by NFL standards, and their pass rush is still somewhat inconsistent. Overall, however, Tennessee’s defense has looked far removed from the debacle it was at times last season.
In their season opener, the Titans’ defense didn’t just contain Adrian Peterson; they absolutely shut him down. Peterson totaled a mere 31 yards on 19 carries, giving him a career-low 2.3 yards per carry. In fact, the Titans’ defense only allowed four field goals to the Vikings in that game. Both of Minnesota’s touchdowns came on defense.
Then, Tennesse faced the potent Detroit Lions’ offense. But even that offense couldn’t get much going against Tennessee.
Detroit was able to have more success running the ball against the Titans than Minnesota did, piling up 137 yards on 23 carries. But quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was coming off a stellar performance against Indianapolis the previous week where he completed 79.5 percent of his passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns, struggled to connect consistently with his receivers and made a mistake on Detroit’s last drive that cost them the game.
On the day, Stafford completed just 55 percent of his 40 pass attempts for 260 yards, a touchdown, and that devastating interception in the final minute of the game. The Titans managed to sack Stafford four times after not sacking Shaun Hill a single time last week.
Most importantly, Tennessee held Detroit’s high-powered offense to just 15 points.
In two games, the Titans have allowed six field goals and only one touchdown on defense. That’s a stark contrast to the team that allowed 45 total touchdowns on defense in 16 games last season.
Tennesse still has been bad at causing turnovers this season. Aside from that clutch interception off Stafford late in the game, the Titans haven’t forced another turnover in two games. Last season, the Titans managed to pick off just 11 passes and only forced 19 total turnovers.
Has it been a drastic improvement? Not overall, no. But after the lackluster showing the Titans had on defense for most of 2015, the product they’ve put out on the field in 2016 has looked much more serviceable and has even won them a game. In fact, the Titans’ defense has played well enough to win them both games this season, but the offense just made two huge mistakes against the Vikings that cost them the victory.
If the offense can find some consistency and limit their turnovers, the Titans may actually surpass expectations this season. But that will largely depend on the defense keeping up their good play they’ve shown through two games when it’s time to face AFC South foes. If they can do that, the Titans could be better than many anticipated this year.