The Titans will often rely on Zach Brown to cover tight ends.
Has Tennessee improved at covering tight ends, or are Daniels and Graham poised to have a big day, picking up on the trend of the Mike Munchak-coached Titans?
Per John Parolin of ESPN Stats and Info, 24 percent of the catches made against the Titans since Munchak became head coach in 2011 have been made by tight ends. That is only the 17th-highest percentage in the league.
The troublesome number: Those catches have accounted for 24 percent of the receiving yardage against Tennessee, the fourth-highest percentage in the league.
Strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers has been a key cog in the effort defending tight ends the past two seasons, but it has not been his forte. Now he’s a line-of-scrimmage player most of the time, and an end in nickel situations.
“It’s being disciplined and keeping your eyes on you man, really,” Ayers said about covering Houston's tight ends. “My first two years here, I was doing a lot of covering. So I experienced firsthand when I got the tight end, I took my eyes off him for one second and he’s running across the field.”
Now Ayers will look to provide pass pressure that will help everyone in coverage.
More often, weakside linebacker Zach Brown will be the linebacker involved in covering the tight end.
Brown made it sound simple -- probably too simple -- when I spoke to him about it late in the preseason.
Pass Defense Against Tight Ends, 2011-13
Source: John Parolin, ESPN Stats and Info
“You’ve just got to be disciplined with your eyes and know what routes the tight end runs,” he said. “The tight end really don’t run a lot of routes unless you’re Vernon Davis. Other than that, tight ends run two or three routes.”
So eye discipline against guys that run only two or three routes was that bad?
We’ll need to see significant improvement in that department for the Titans to limit Daniels and Graham.
A few weeks ago, senior defensive assistant Gregg Williams spoke of tight end coverage issues the Titans' defense had before he joined the staff.
“Maybe some of the teams they’ve played have been high-profile threats on those teams and maybe diminished receivers on those teams,” Williams said. “We’re going to have teams each week that are going to pose talent threats, and we’re going to have to matchup talent threats.”