Early this week former Titans safety Blaine Bishop put forth this theory on his Nashville afternoon radio show: The Titans' pass rush has been getting tired in the second half, forcing the secondary to cover more. Unable to hold up, Tennessee’s given up significant yards and plays after halftime and suffered the consequences.
In consecutive losses to San Diego and Miami, the Titans have been outscored 39-14 in the second half.
Bishop’s commentary sent me searching for the Titans' sack numbers by quarter, and ESPN Stats & Information gave me this breakdown:
First quarter: 12
Second quarter: 6
Third quarter: 6
Fourth quarter: 3
There is more at play there, certainly, than being tired. But defensive line coach Jim Washburn said it is a factor for any pass-rusher.
“Being tired’s got a lot to do with it, even rotating you get tired,” Washburn said. “Your best rush opportunities come in the last two minutes of a game sometimes when you’re ahead, and that’s when you’re the most tired.
"Somebody told me, ‘If I could ride the exercise bike for 58 minutes and just come in and play the last two minutes fresh and we’re ahead, I’d get like a sack every game.’”
But Tennessee's overall sack breakdown includes a lot more than that, including teams realizing they needed to do more to protect against the Titans' front than they may have thought coming in.
Philadelphia allowed one sack, but was hell-bent on protecting Kevin Kolb, setting up “an obstacle course.”
“There are too many variables,” Washburn said. “Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason.”
By Washburn’s count, his front four has the most sacks of any in the league, with 22. Oakland has 21.5, the Giants 20.5, Philadelphia 20.5, Detroit 20 and St. Louis 20.
Better third-down defense is a bigger issue than second-half pass rushing, and the Titans hope to show marked improvement in that category Sunday against Washington.