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Tennessee Titans defensive improvement in 2013 highlighted by Alterraun Verner, Jurrell Casey

 

Tennessee Titans

Tennessee TitansNashville, TN – A year after fielding the 27th-ranked defensive unit in the NFL, the Tennessee Titans finished 14th in the NFL in 2013 and were 11th best in defending the pass. On third down, the defense allowed conversions on only 34.3 percent of plays, which was good for seventh in the league.

Helped by a consistent secondary that featured cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner, as well as Bernard Pollard and Michael Griffin at safety, the Titans’ 15 touchdown passes allowed were the least in the NFL.

Also, opposing offenses combined for an 83.3 passer rating against the Titans, the defense’s best finish since 2008.

McCourty and Verner were credited by Titans coaches with 42 passes defensed in 2013, the most by a pair of defenders in the “Titans era” (1999 to present). Verner earned his first career Pro Bowl invitation and was named second-team Associated Press All-Pro after leading the team and tying for fifth place in the NFL with five interceptions.

Pollard led the defense and set a career high with 142 tackles, which was the the second-highest total by a Titans/Oilers safety since 1990. Griffin finished the 2013 campaign in a tie for fifth place among franchise safeties with 22 career interceptions.

On the defensive line, the regular starters were defensive ends Derrick Morgan and Ropati Pitoitua, along with defensive tackles Sammie Hill and Jurrell Casey.

Like Verner, Casey was named second-team Associated Press All-Pro. The third-year defender’s 10.5 sacks not only led the team but made up the second-highest total by a franchise defensive tackle since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 (13 by Ray Childress in 1992). Among NFL defensive tackles in 2013, Casey’s sack total trailed only Jason Hatcher of the Dallas Cowboys (11).

Akeem Ayers started the majority of the season at strongside linebacker in the team’s 4-3 scheme, while Zach Brown manned the weakside. In the middle, Moise Fokou, another of the team’s free agent acquisitions, served as the signal caller for most of the campaign. Brown led the group and ranked second on the defense with 117 tackles.


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