As they seek to fix their woeful pass rush over the offseason, the Tennessee Titans need to follow the example set by the Green Bay Packers in 2019.
The Titans’ pass rush was easily the team’s biggest weakness in 2020, and it will continue to be a problem if general manager Jon Robinson does not take aggressive action over the offseason to get the problem fixed.
The Green Bay Packers laid out a great blueprint for turning around the fortunes of a pass rush during the 2019 offseason after having missed out on the playoffs the year prior.
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst that, if anything, he had to overcorrect to fix his team’s major personnel problem on the defensive front. That’s exactly what he did.
— Buck Reising😷 (@BuckReising) January 27, 2021
In free agency, Green Bay dished out big contracts for two of the best outside linebackers on the market: Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. It was a major financial commitment, as the Smiths’ contracts combined for over $118 million in total salary.
Adding Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith paid immediate dividends for the Packers during the 2019 season, as the two players combined for a whopping 25.5 sacks. The success continued into 2020 for Za’Darius Smith, who notched 12.5 sacks and made his second-straight Pro Bowl.
The Packers’ work on their defensive front didn’t stop in free agency, though.
Green Bay also used significant resources to upgrade their pass rush in the 2019 NFL Draft, using their first-round pick on Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary.
Because of their significant investment in 2019, the trio of Gary, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith has taken the Packers from having a dreary pass rush to having a terrifying one over the past two seasons.
If the Titans are willing to make a similar investment in 2021, they could see a similar transformation.
The Titans need to do more than just sign a pass rusher or draft one—they need to take multiple shots at adding impact players.
It would behoove the Titans to, as Green Bay did in 2019, double-dip on veteran rushers in free agency and use a high draft choice on a rookie pass rusher.
Cover image: Dan Powers & Christopher Hanewinckel / USA Today