Redskins

Porous Titans' 'D' now one of stingiest in the NFL

201212172324842724594-p2.jpeg

Porous Titans' 'D' now one of stingiest in the NFL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee defense was giving up more points than anyone else in the NFL earlier this season. The Titans were so bad they had nowhere to go but up.

Over the past six weeks they've gotten better.

Much better.

The Titans head to Green Bay on Sunday ranked in the top five in six different categories, including fourth in scoring defense holding opponents to 17.6 points per game since Nov. 11. That may not seem like much, but Tennessee gave up an NFL-worst 181 points through the first five games and still rank 30th in that category for the season.

Coach Mike Munchak says defensive coordinator Jerry Gray has to be happy with how the Titans have weathered the early storm.

``We knew it wasn't all the defense,'' Munchak said. ``It was turnovers, it was the offense. It was a lot of things that were leading to statistically things looking worse than they were. We obviously weren't playing as well as we needed to play on either side of the ball.''

Starting with a 37-3 win at Miami on Nov. 11, the Titans rank third in total defense holding opponents to 286 yards per game, first averaging 3.4 sacks per game, second in interceptions (10), sixth in third-down percentage (32.4 percent), eighth against the run (104.6 yards per game) and second in opponent's passer rating (60.7).

That's despite not having defensive captain Colin McCarthy at middle linebacker the past three games as he recovers from concussion symptoms.

``There are a lot of good things developing here as we finish up,'' Munchak said.

Defensive end Derrick Morgan, the first-round draft pick in 2010, had been perceived as a bust tearing an ACL in his first month as a rookie. But Morgan leads the Titans with 16 quarterback pressures, and he's tied for second with 4 1/2 sacks, including one in the win against the Jets.

Second-year linebacker Akeem Ayers is tied with end Kamerion Wimbley for the team lead with five sacks, and Ayers is second with 96 tackles. Rookie linebacker Zach Brown, who has started 11 games this season, was marked down by some in the draft for not being physical. The second-round pick out of North Carolina has 4 1/2 sacks, 79 tackles and is fourth in tackles.

Munchak said the young linebackers are starting to show the type of plays they can make with their size and strength.

``They have a lot of growing left. These guys are going to be a lot better than they are now,'' Munchak said.

The Titans were at their best this season against the Jets forcing a season-high five turnovers and also had four sacks for a second straight game. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the Titans played really good Monday night.

``I like to judge a team by kind of how they're playing lately, and I think they're playing really well,'' Rodgers said. ``They're an opportunistic defense. They have some guys with some ball skills in the secondary, they've got some athletic players. They're very young overall. I think it's a team that has a bright future.''

This streak started Nov. 11 when the Titans beat Miami 37-3 on the road. They also have played tough offenses in Houston and Indianapolis along with the struggling Jaguars and Jets.

The Packers (10-4) offer a stiffer challenge. Rodgers has been sacked 45 times this season, but he has a 104.7 passer rating throwing for 32 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. Only New England has had fewer passes intercepted this season.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said they are spending extra time studying film of the Titans (5-9) since these teams haven't played since 2008.

``They fly around, they have excellent length. Their secondary, also, is making plays,'' McCarthy said.

Cornerback Jason McCourty said the biggest key is the Titans are just playing better even though wins haven't resulted. Now they want to create more stops, turnovers and sacks to help the offense score more points and get more wins.

``Even though we're playing better, we want to get wins,'' McCourty said.

Notes: The Titans went through a light 45-minute session Wednesday. Munchak said receiver Kendall Wright is very sore after hurting his ribs against the Jets and will have to improve a lot to play in Green Bay. McCarthy will practice Thursday with no restrictions to test the linebacker. WRs Kenny Britt (knee) and Damian Williams (hamstring) were limited, while C Kevin Matthews (right ankle), CB Ryan Mouton (hamstring) and DE Scott Solomon (knee) also did not practice.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter:http://twitter.com/teresamwalker

Quick Links

'My whole house is going to be jersey'd out': Redskins players explain why they swap jerseys

'My whole house is going to be jersey'd out': Redskins players explain why they swap jerseys

Tress Way wants an office. Does he need an office? No, and he admitted as much this week at Redskins Park. Regardless, the punter wants one and he has a vision for it, too.

That vision doesn't include a computer or a chair with solid back support or a fancy stapler, either. Instead, it's all about what will be hanging on the walls.

NFL jerseys. Lots and lots of NFL jerseys.

Way, like many of his teammates and many other players around the league, has been swapping jerseys with opponents following games for a handful of years now. Between the uniforms he has hanging in his locker at the organization's Ashburn practice facility and the collection he's developed in past seasons, he's now picked up more than enough to decorate that future office.

He loves the thought of it as much as he hates the thought of a touchback. 

"That'd be awesome," he said. 

Honestly, it's hard not to notice the other, non-Burgundy and Gold colors that dot the walls of the Redskins' locker room. About half of the players feature jerseys from other teams among their other belongings, if not more.

View this post on Instagram

1k 💪🏾💪🏾

A post shared by Daron Payne (@94yne) on

So, who do they target?

The most common answer is guys that they suited up with before the NFL. Way, for example, boasts one from his college long snapper. Quinton Dunbar looks for fellow Florida Gators, while Tim Settle hunts for other Virginia Tech Hokies. 

There are other reasons to make an exchange, however. Paul Richardson aims to acquire them from anyone who grew up in Los Angeles, like he did. Dunbar, meanwhile, will search for stars he's looked up to. After matching up with the 49ers, for example, he hopes to scoop Richard Sherman's uniform.

"I'm going to hit him up on Instagram," Dunbar said.

Some swaps are prearranged, such as the one Dunbar wants to orchestrate, while others are totally unplanned. Settle explained he doesn't go into games thinking about it, but if he takes a picture with someone, he'll offer to make a trade on the spot. 

Though the defensive tackle doesn't plan them out, he does have a specific idea for what he'll eventually do with the threads.

"My whole house is going to be jersey'd out," he said. "It's something that you get to work on, you're building something. It's every man's dream to have a nice, little decked-out man cave."

There is one especially prized piece currently on display in Ashburn, and judging by the amount of interest in it, it may need its own surveillance crew. That is the Tom Brady jersey that's dangling in Adrian Peterson's locker, a gift from one Hall of Famer to another.

Settle, who sacked Brady in Week 5, has long idolized the QB. So, please forgive the jealousy that creeps into his voice as he talks about the fact that Peterson was the one to receive Brady's No. 12. He understands it, but he's not thrilled about it.

"They've been in the league, they're dinosaurs," he said. "Two dinosaurs in the league."

Way, meanwhile, also considered approaching Brady after the Washington-New England contest. Ultimately, he decided against it for fear of being shut down.

"I'm terrified of that, that's why I never asked Tom Brady to switch," Way said, grinning. "I thought about asking Tom, 'Tom, I know you look up to my game, I look up to your game.' I was afraid of that rejection. Same with Brees that day that he broke the record against us [in 2018]. 'I know you look up to me, I look up to you. Maybe we could switch.'"

Settle and Way may have missed out on landing Brady's, but they have other names on their lists they intend to track down. And while the jerseys will one day be framed and mounted in offices or man caves, they will also represent something more than a sweet accessory to a room.

"They're part of memories, too," Settle said. "This is a dream. Trading jerseys with somebody you grew up with or played with or you look up to or that you want to meet, I'm all for it." 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

After Patrick Mahomes' injury, could Case Keenum or Colt McCoy be on the move?

After Patrick Mahomes' injury, could Case Keenum or Colt McCoy be on the move?

Patrick Mahomes hurt his knee Thursday night, and while the severity is unknown, Kansas City's Super Bowl plans just got dealt a major hurdle. 

The truth is if Mahomes needs knee surgery then the Chiefs might need to recalibrate their hopes for January and beyond. If Mahomes only needs rest, however, then the Redskins might actually be able to help. 

It's no secret Washington and Kansas City know how to make a trade. January 2018 the two teams worked out a blockbuster when quarterback Alex Smith came to the Redskins and cornerback Kendall Fuller along with a third-round pick went to the Chiefs. The same power brokers are in charge now that pulled off that trade: Andy Reid in KC and Bruce Allen in DC.

And oddly enough the Redskins have a bit of a surplus in veteran quarterbacks. Neither Case Keenum or Colt McCoy can replace Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, but either signal caller might be able to keep the Chiefs afloat for a few weeks.

The trade deadline is approaching fast, coming October 29th. The Redskins are currently 1-5 and there is no reason to keep both Keenum and McCoy on the roster the rest of the year. 

Washington drafted Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick, and eventually, the Ohio State star will start for the Redskins. Beyond that, both Keenum and McCoy have contracts that expire after this season. Neither player figures in the long-term plans for the Burgundy and Gold, and certainly the future is to eventually go to Haskins.

Want one more mitigating factor? Even after his devestating injury last season, Alex Smith is due more than $20 million guaranteed next year. He has been at practice and games for weeks, and appears to be close with Washington upper management. It's not crazy to think that in some role Smith will be around in 2020 along with Haskins. That makes Keenum or McCoy that much more expendable down the stretch. 

If Kansas City needs somebody to run their offense for a few weeks, the Redskins should dangle McCoy or Keenum. Or both. 

It's unclear that either player would entice much of an offer, but keep in mind, McCoy is widely respected around the league and Keenum had the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game just two seasons ago. The return for Washington might not be much, but something is always more thank nothing. 

Most deals get made around necessity, and Kansas City might have a big need. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS