2 Tennessee Titans make NFL.com’s 2021 All-Pro Team

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The Tennessee Titans’ defense has seen a major turnaround in 2021 after a putrid 2020 season, so it comes as no surprise that some of the team’s defenders are getting recognition.

Nick Shook of NFL.com put together his own 2021 All-Pro Team, and on it are two Titans, safety Kevin Byard and defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons.

Here’s what Shook had to say about Simmons, who was a major Pro Bowl snub after having his best season as a pro:

Simmons is ascending toward elite status, even if folks don’t give him his due because of the position he plays. Simmons’ résumé this season is similar to that of Donald, starting with his QB pressure percentage of 10.6 (on 549 pass rushes). Simmons is responsible for 45 stops, 11 run stuffs, one turnover caused by pressure and 8.5 sacks. His performance against Los Angeles was his best of the season, repeatedly putting center Brian Allen in a clown suit on national television and harassing Matthew Stafford, who threw two interceptions and was sacked by Simmons three times in the Titans’ 28-16 win over the Rams. That game gave everyone a look at Simmons’ potential. He’s only getting started, and he was an egregious Pro Bowl snub.

Here’s what Shook said about Byard, who also earned a spot on Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro Team and was voted to the Pro Bowl this season.

Byard’s red-hot ride into November boosted his numbers toward the top of the safety class enough to keep him there through the new year. Byard ranks third among safeties in targeted EPA at -21, eighth in ballhawk rate (minimum 25 targets as nearest defender) and is tied for the most interceptions with five. He’s been a key part of Tennessee’s defense, which has defied expectations and advanced metrics analytics when it comes to DVOA. The numbers don’t matter to the Titans, who will point to their win-loss record as proof that they can get the job done in unconventional ways. Byard stands as a perfect example of just how effective Tennessee is, even if the Titans still don’t get the respect they deserve. He was certainly deserving of the second Pro Bowl selection of his career.

Simmons tallied a career-high 8.5 sacks for the Titans in 2021, the third-most on the team. He was also a disruptive force up the middle that commanded extra help, opening things up for his other teammates in the pass-rush, something that doesn’t show up in the box score.

After a down season in 2020, Byard has returned to his elite form. His five picks were tied for the fourth-most in the NFL and were tops on the Titans, and he added 13 passes defended, a pair of defensive touchdowns, and was Tennessee’s leading tackler.

In coverage, Byard allowed a completion rate of 51.7 percent and a passer rating of 68.7. He ended up finishing as PFF’s highest-graded safety, both overall and in coverage.

Along with Simmons, Byard should get consideration for a First-Team All-Pro selection. Harold Landry and Denico Autry should also be in the conversation.

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