Titans have to use Griffin at free safety

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
1:21
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Michael Griffin will play near the line of scrimmage and collect tackles if that’s what the Tennessee Titans want him to do.

But it shouldn’t be what they want him to do. And if it’s what they need him to do, they’ve botched roster-building around him.

Griffin
Griffin won a big, new contract after the team placed the franchise tag on him by showing up to work and showing the team his commitment and intention to get better. He didn’t create any story or stink over no new deal, and wound up signing for five years and $35 million with $11.5 million guaranteed.

To make that worth it, they need him where they’ve long talked about putting him, deep in the secondary playing the ball in the air.

As a more traditional free safety, he can be a good player. As a more traditional strong safety, he’s simply not the same caliber.

The Titans are deciding if they are better off with Griffin playing free and Jordan Babineaux playing strong, or with Robert Johnson playing free and Griffin playing strong.

In the second scenario, they’d be accommodating Johnson more than they’d be accommodating Griffin.

Setting things up for an unproven guy instead of a former first-round draft pick you just locked up long term doesn't make sense to me.

"If Grif's your best safety in the box, makes a lot of plays around the line of scrimmage, and then the other guys is pretty good, but he's better in the back end, then it's figuring out what's the best combination of the two," coach Mike Munchak said.

The Titans could end up using both -- getting Babineaux on the field for run situations and the tall leaper Johnson for likely pass plays. That would make Griffin a yo-yo bouncing between free and strong.

If Griffin is your best safety in the box, then you really didn't do a good job assessing Babineaux, I think. He got a two-year contract this offseason.

Griffin is versatile enough to do what the Titans ask. You can argue that given what he’s making he should do so without complaint. And he will.

But the Titans aren’t maximizing him if they put him near the line of scrimmage.

They signed Babineaux for two years and it was presumably his job. Now they aren’t so sure about him.

And Griffin’s set to suffer for it.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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