Titans' plan at safety puzzling

Arthur Arkush
September 12, 2012
Recap of Friday's NFL fines

The Titans weren’t the first team, and they certainly won’t be the last, to be carved up by Patriots QB Tom Brady, who completed 74.2 percent of his passes en route to a 34-14 Week One shellacking of the Titans in Nashville.

Even so, we hear the defense's poor peformance magnified some questionable decisions that have been made by the Titans' coaching staff at the safety position.

Michael Griffin, the recipient of a five-year contract extension in the offseason, played very poorly, but the Titans did him no favors by shifting him to strong safety and elevating Robert Johnson to free safety ahead of 2011 starting SS Jordan Babineaux.

Griffin is best playing in space — not near the line of scrimmage — and his poor tackling and lack of comfort in a new position were painfully evident in Week One.

Johnson’s first NFL start wasn’t as egregious, though we hear it is only a matter of time before inexperience and mental mistakes lead to issues for Johnson in coverage downfield.

Although Babineaux didn't make as many big plays in his first season in Nashville in ’11 as he did in Seattle, he was Tennessee's second-leading tackler and a top priority to re-sign in the offseason.

But like most NFL coaches, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray can be stubborn, and Gray likes the range and playmaking ability of Johnson, thus it's unclear if and when Babineaux will have a larger role than playing in Tennessee's three-deep sub-package.