|Stingy Titans still not satisfied |
|Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008 6:13 pm |
|NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are very greedy. |
They lead the NFL in forced turnovers with 12 and in points allowed per game through their 4-0 start. They also have 15 sacks, and it’s just not enough.
“More sacks, more interceptions,” linebacker Keith Bulluck said. “We need to score more, you know what I mean? This weekend would be great. We know we’re going to have to make a play to change the course of the game. We need to continue to do things like that. It gets contagious.”
The Titans talked all offseason about how they want to be the NFL’s best defense in 2008. They’re not there yet in most defensive statistics, but they see plenty of room for improvement.
“We’re efficient, productive,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We get the ball back right now. I don’t think we’ve played nearly as well as we’re capable of playing.”
The Titans will get a chance Sunday when they visit Baltimore (2-1) to see how they measure up. The Ravens lead the NFL in five different categories including yards allowed (186.7) per game, are second to the Titans in scoring defense (14.3 points per game) and are on a franchise-record streak of holding opponents to 17 points or less in seven straight regular-season games.
The two defenses are playing so well it brings back memories of 2000 when the Ravens set an NFL record by allowing just 165 points in a season. The Titans ranked second in that category but first in yards allowed. Fisher watched the Ravens in Monday night’s 23-20 overtime loss at Pittsburgh and was impressed by what he saw.
“Their defense is back. Their defense is kind of reminiscent of the old days. So it’s a very big challenge for us,” he said.
Titans quarterback Kerry Collins saw the Ravens’ 2000 defense up close and personal in the Super Bowl where he finished with a 7.1 passer rating after being sacked four times and intercepted four times.
“I don’t think it was fair they allowed them to play with 15 because it seemed like there were 15 of them as fast as they were and as many plays as they made,” Collins said. “It’s one I’d like to forget, but it’s a great learning experience.”
Derrick Mason, who played with Tennessee against that 2000 Ravens defense, now is in Baltimore, and the receiver said things have changed. But he sees the same relentless attitude in both defenses today. He also expects the Titans to pressure Baltimore rookie quarterback Joe Flacco a lot, especially since Pittsburgh got five sacks.
“It starts with the guy up the middle in (Albert) Haynesworth and blocking him and kind of going from there. They have a very good defensive line, I think one of the best in the league, so we have to figure out a way to stop those guys from getting to the quarterback,” Mason said.
Haynesworth, who had an All Pro season in 2007, already has five sacks to lead all defensive tackles. He was named the AFC defensive player of the month for September on Thursday and is one sack off matching his career high. He had seven tackles in last week’s 30-17 win over Minnesota.
But the Titans, who are giving up 263.5 yards offense and 86.8 yards rushing per game, see lots of what Bulluck calls dumb mistakes like giving up big plays that must be corrected.
Adrian Peterson broke loose for a 28-yard touchdown in last week’s 30-17 win over Minnesota. Rookie Steve Slaton slipped through a would-be tackle for a loss and ran 50 yards in a 31-12 win over Houston.
“We know there’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to this sport,” Bulluck said. “Every individual on this defense tries to come as close to perfection as they can.”
Notes: Vince Young took part in a full practice Thursday. … Justin Gage (right knee), punter Craig Hentrich (back), cornerback Reynaldo Hill (hamstring) and running back LenDale White (shoulder) did not practice. Gage and Hill ran on a side field, and Fisher said all had a chance to practice Friday.