CBS Sports: Titans ‘somewhat unlikely’ to finish with top-10 defense in 2022

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If not for the Tennessee Titans’ defense taking a monumental leap forward in 2021, it’s difficult to imagine head coach Mike Vrabel’s team clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

In the COVID-19-impacted 2020 season, the Titans finished with the 24th-best defense. Led by the second-best rushing defense in 2021, Shane Bowen’s group jumped to sixth-best in the league.

Individually, the Titans saw a few players post All-Pro numbers.

Harold Landry tallied a career-best 12 sacks and 22 quarterback hits, Kevin Byard collected five interceptions and 13 passes defended, and Jeffery Simmons became a household name along the defensive line, tallying 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

With nearly everyone returning on defense in 2022, the Titans’ unit figures to finish in the top-10 again. However, not everyone is on board with that notion.

According to CBS’s Jared Dubin, the Titans are ‘somewhat unlikely’ to have a top-10 defense in 2022.

“Tennessee had an above-average defense last season but there’s just not enough high-level talent aside from Jeffery Simmons and Kevin Byard for us to see them crashing the top 10.”  

Aside from Byard, Landry and Simmons, the Titans had a number of invaluable contributors last year.

Denico Autry, recently dubbed as the most underappreciated player on the roster, quietly finished with the second-most sacks (nine) on the Titans, and David Long and Zach Cunningham re-shaped the inside linebacker group.

With Landry and Bud Dupree flanking the outside, the Titans’ front seven figures to once again be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

Amani Hooker, who tallied a key interception in the postseason, and Byard are viewed as one of the best safety duos in the National Football League.

If the Titans have a hole on defense, it’s their No. 2 corner back spot opposite Kristian Fulton, who was a stud in his second season.

The job was recently vacated by the release of Janoris Jenkins. Caleb Farley, who continues to work back from ACL surgery, will likely have a loose grip on the job and could have 2022 second-round pick Roger McCreary breathing down his neck.

Health will again play a key role, but its difficult to imagine this defense not being a top-10 unit.

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