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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Why Titans need pass-rush help

By Paul Kuharsky

In free agency, the Titans downplayed their need at defensive end, adding only 6-foot-8, 315-pound Ropati Pitoitua.

But depth was an issue in 2012, when Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan were overextended.

Some combination of Keyunta Dawson, Leger Douzable and Dave Ball behind the starters would have helped. But Douzable and Ball were on injured reserve in the preseason and Dawson played in just three games before he was hurt.

Currently the depth is Pitoitua, Dawson and Scott Solomon. A drat pick could upgrade the group.

With Gregg Williams added to the defensive coaching staff, there is more talk of blitzing and more discussion of splashing in some 3-4 looks. Outside linebacker Akeem Ayers was increasingly involved in the rush later in the season and figures to be more prominent going forward. He could blitz from his usual spot and he could line up sometimes as an end.

Last season, the Titans sent four or fewer rushers nearly 75 percent of the time, recording 18 sacks. The quarter of the time when they sent five or more, they recorded 21 sacks.

That was 26.0 drop-backs per sack for standard pressure (28th in the NFL) and 7.6 drop-backs per sack with five or more rushers, best in the NFL.

Even if they blitz more, they need to do better with a standard rush and probably need to ease the workloads of Morgan (who played 81 percent of the defensive snaps last season) and Wimbley (80 percent).