Switcheroo pulled by Titans’ defense
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Titans’ linebacker Keith Bulluck lines up behind tackle Albert Haynesworth and end Kyle Vanden Bosch, and he didn’t notice the change until he saw it on film a day later.
On just four or five plays, Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch flipped positions, and Vanden Bosch got one of his three sacks rushing Philip Rivers from just a few steps to his left.
“It kind of keeps them on their toes,” Titans’ coach Jeff Fisher said of the switch-up.
The duo have been disruptive enough since being paired on the right side of the Titans’ defensive line in the preseason. Vanden Bosch ranks sixth in the AFC with nine sacks and has three games left to match his career high of 121/2 in 2005. Haynesworth has a career-best six sacks.
Call it creativity by necessity.
The Titans have 32 sacks this season, including a season-high seven Nov. 4 against Carolina and five in last week’s 23-17 overtime loss to San Diego.
That doesn’t include the 107 quarterback pressures with Haynesworth having 20 and Vanden Bosch 18 himself.
“Teams have completely changed their game plans against us because of the pressure we bring,” Vanden Bosch said Wednesday.
“Teams have gotten rid of the ball on one step, three steps. We can’t go in expecting a lot of sacks. We have to go in with the same approach and do some of the things we have been doing.”
That includes this little wrinkle used by the Titans the past couple weeks.
Haynesworth, who has played the past two games after missing three straight with an injured right hamstring, likes the flip. He said it allows both Vanden Bosch and himself to bring a new element to their pass rush.
“It gives us the opportunity to show skills people didn’t know we had,” Haynesworth said.
They’ve done it rarely enough that offenses hadn’t had a chance to study them on tape.
They only do it on passing downs. It isn’t that easy to pick up because they occasionally line up wide with Haynesworth on the tackle and Vanden Bosch even farther outside.
“Albert is so physical, so strong he just crushes that whole pocket, and I’m able to play off what he does,” Vanden Bosch said. “We’ve done a good job kind of playing to everyone’s strengths on the d-line, moving around and doing different stunts. We’ve had some good success against teams doing different things.”
Based on the numbers, the Titans (7-6) should have opportunities to add to their sack total Sunday when they visit Kansas City (4-9).
Damon Huard has been sacked 32 times this season, and new starter Brodie Croyle has been sacked 14.
Haynesworth cautioned against counting any sacks too early.
“There’s a couple teams that allowed a lot of sacks, and we didn’t really get there but once or twice. We’re just going to go in there. We’ve got to stop the run, then we have a chance to get after the quarterback. Brodie’s a young quarterback. Hopefully, he’ll see the rush and see us coming,” he said.
Croyle’s already noticed.
“That is one of the first things that jumps out at you,” Croyle said on a conference call. “Both of them are playing at an extremely high level right now. They’re really wreaking havoc, and it’s going to be a tough battle for our (offensive) line to keep them out.”