Defense rebuild is trying on Titans
Posted: Friday, June 18, 2010 5:45 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Chuck Cecil’s first season as the Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator couldn’t have been more memorable — and for all the wrong reasons.
The Titans started 0-6 and hit a low point with a 59-0 rout in New England, giving up a franchise-worst 619 yards in the loss.
A defense that returned 10 starters from one of the NFL’s best units in 2008 lost three defensive backs to injury during the skid.
Cecil took much of the blame as furious fans flooded message boards and radio shows demanding that he be fired.
Cecil looks back now a few months later and calls it a trying time.
“It was quite the perfect storm, I guess you’d say in a bad sort of way. If that doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger so we survived it and learned a lot from it and moved on,” he said.
That can only help as Cecil pulls together a defense that could feature as many as four new starters in 2010 thanks to the Titans’ youth movement.
He took over a defense that had ranked seventh in 2008 and fifth in 2007 in total yards allowed.
The only other change on defense was the departure of tackle Albert Haynesworth to Washington in free agency.
So as the losses mounted and opposing quarterbacks piled up the yards, the criticism mounted on Cecil.
In the offseason, free agent end Kyle Vanden Bosch left for Detroit and cornerback Nick Harper’s contract was not renewed.
Linebacker David Thornton has spent the offseason recovering from pectoral/shoulder surgery, and free agent linebacker Keith Bulluck is recovering from ACL surgery.
Tennessee signed linebacker Will Witherspoon, and Gerald McRath has worked in Thornton’s spot. McRath will sit out the first four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy.
The Titans also used six of their nine draft picks on defensive players, including end Derrick Morgan at No. 16.
Fisher said Thursday that the injuries, dropped balls and non-calls that contributed to that 0-6 start can’t be predicted. He believes Cecil overcame a lot, showed creativity and had the Titans ready to play.
“Coaches that I’ve had over the years, the number of coordinators, the second year’s always easier than the first year,” Fisher said.
For the Titans, it couldn’t be any tougher.
NOTES: WR Nate Washington had his left wrist checked after colliding with CB Jason McCourty going up for a deep pass. Fisher said he was fine. … The Titans hosted 70 coaches as part of Fisher’s ninth annual coaching clinic Thursday with high school coaches coming from as far away as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.