Tennessee Titans: Albert Haynesworth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Brian Urlacher recently admitted members of the Bears faked injuries to slow high-powered offenses.

Another linebacker from Urlacher's generation, Keith Bulluck, said that the Tennessee Titans used to do the same.

“You kidding me? Yeah of course,” Bulluck said in his weekly appearance on The Midday 180 in Nashville, of which I am a part. “It’s one of the things if the offense is going too fast. Offenses do that for many different reasons. I know for us they would do that, the Colts were legendary at doing that, go hurry-up offense either when Albert (Haynesworth) was on the field to get him tired or when he was off the field do hurry-up offense so he couldn’t get back on the field.

“Those 300-pounder, they’re in shape for their size, but to go seven, eight snaps in a row at a rapid pace, they might as well not even be out there. So yeah, it happens, it’s been happening, it’s nothing new and I don’t even know why people are surprised.”

Bulluck said the Titans sometimes got a signal from the sideline and sometimes it came from him.

“Look man, somebody needs to go down. I remember Robaire Smith used to hate doing that. If he had to be the guy, he was like, ‘I’m not going down,” Bulluck said. “Because at the end of the day, it looks weak. It does look week. You’re out there, ‘Ohh, ahh I’m hurt.' Then you walk off the field and you’re back in in a few plays.

“I remember Robaire Smith cussed me out in the middle of a game because I told him he had to take a dive. Then he got to the sideline and then cussed (defensive line coach Jim) Washburn out too. So it’s not always a favorable tactic. But you do what you’ve got to do sometimes.”

Guys who are past their playing days are fine talking about it now.

It’s a tough thing for the league to police as it’s happening.

I certainly think the NFL can do more to discourage it by issuing fines to teams and players if they spot a hand signal prompting an “injury.”

But we’re going to have to live with it, as we have in the past, and maybe laugh about it with the participants years later.

Titans lacking 'the guy' on defense

September, 5, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Not every good or great defense in the NFL has a signpost guy who’s the big issue for the competition.

The best defenses for the Tennessee Titans have, however.

Defensive end Jevon Kearse arrived in 1999 and proved to be the missing ingredient, booting the Titans defense to a Super Bowl level with his explosive edge rush. He notched 36 sacks in his first three seasons. The 2000 team was the NFL’s No. 1 defense.

Albert Haynesworth was an incredible defensive tackle for the Titans in 2007 and 2008, with 14.5 sacks from defensive tackle. Tennessee was fifth in defense the first year and seventh the second.

Like Kearse, Haynesworth created panic and forced offenses to account for him at all times.

Perhaps these Titans have upgraded and will be collectively successful. They lack a singular, dominant player who dictates double teams or constant concern.

“We’d hope that there is more than just that guy,” senior assistant/defense Gregg Williams said recently. “Kearse here was that guy. But when I went other places and had top defenses in the league, we had a multitude of just really good guys. Maybe not a dominant, take-over-the-game guy, maybe not a lot of Pro Bowlers on those teams, but top-ranked defenses.

“We’ve got to have more than just one guy. We’ve got to have several guys that people have to account for and/or know because they can be threats.”

The better scenario, of course, is having the one guy, and having him surrounded by the kind of really good guys Williams speaks about.

Kearse played with solid defenders like cornerback Samari Rolle, safety Blaine Bishop (for two of those years) and linebacker Randall Godfrey. Haynesworth had end Kyle Vanden Bosch, linebackers Keith Bulluck and David Thornton and cornerback Cortland Finnegan.

The Titans have a lot guys who can potentially be high-quality defenders: tackle Jurrell Casey, end Derrick Morgan and linebacker/end Akeem Ayers head my list. It’s hard to imagine any of them jumping the Kearse-Haynesworth level of production.

Casey got a big compliment from Jerricho Cotchery, the Steelers receiver, on Wednesday.

“I'm supposed to be looking at DBs, but you can't help but see No. 99 up front, big Casey," Cotchery told my Pittsburgh colleague, Scott Brown. "He's everywhere, especially when you look at the Atlanta game in the preseason. He's just all over the place. He stands out even when you're watching the back end of it.”

Maybe Casey will wind up being a singular force for the Titans.

They don't intend to worry about it as they get to work.

“I say we go to work with the guys that we have,” cornerback Jason McCourty said. “We can’t really worry about what we don’t have, but we can worry about how effective we can be with what we do have.”