Wednesday, August 28, 2013
On Verner and Campbell both as starters
By Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said Tuesday that even when the team decides between Alterraun Verner and Tommie Campbell for a starting cornerback role, it won’t necessarily be a season-long assignment.
The team could choose the starter opposite Jason McCourty on a week-to-week basis.
“Come Pittsburgh week, we know we have to make a decision,” Gray said. “But we’re going to look at Pittsburgh’s roster and see which guy fits that week, and we may end up using both guys during the course of the season because one guy is stronger in one area, and the other guy is stronger in the other.”
Verner’s overall body of work is better than Campbell’s, but Campbell is better suited to play the press, man-to-man style the Titans prefer for their evolving defense.
He drew a somewhat disturbing comparison when talking about the potential platoon, pointing to Dainon Sidney (a better man corner) and Michael Booker (a better zone corner) in 2000, when the Titans were the No. 1 defense in the NFL.
But the two weren’t working as the team’s No. 2 cornerback. Samari Rolle and Denard Walker were the starters. With Donald Mitchell missing the season hurt, Sidney and Booker were patchwork players in the nickel package when Rolle moved inside.
And the Titans’ success came far more despite those players than because of them. The Titans didn’t have the luxury of choosing between players with different skills sets. They had the necessity of judging who was the lesser of two evils.
If Verner/Campbell is anything close to Sidney/Booker, the Titans will have serious problems.
This duo is better than the one from 13 years ago. I’m in favor of the Titans playing packages tailored to opponents and situations. But there is a point where that’s overdone. And the base defense would be better off with a guy who’s clearly the starter than with some sort of rotation.
If you have two, we know, you don’t really have one.