Michael Griffin Ready for Specific Role

Posted Jul 25, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Some call the position “centerfield” and others call it the “angel in the sky,” but the Titans are calling it Michael Griffin’s job.

Michael Griffin is comfortable and ready to focus on the role the Titans have in mind for him in 2013.
Click here for a slideshow from Griffin's career.

Griffin, who has played every game in a Titans uniform since he was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, will focus on playing free safety in 2013. He and the Titans reported to Saint Thomas Sports Park Wednesday and hit the field Thursday.

Most of the time this season, Griffin will line up a considerable distance away from the line of scrimmage. He’ll read the quarterback’s eyes, and go after the football to add to his 21 career interceptions or provide help to break up deep pass attempts.

Griffin said that he’s excited about the specialized role, and Titans coaches believe it will fit his attributes and abilities like a custom-fit pinstripe suit.  

“I think my role will basically be simplified by being able to stay in the middle of the field 20 yards deep,” Griffin said during the Titans’ offseason program. “That’s my job, to be the angel in the sky. My role is different now. I’ve just got to be able to watch film, watch the quarterback’s eyes and move when the ball is thrown.”

Titans secondary coach Brett Maxie, who is entering his 16th season as an NFL coach, said Griffin is “probably the best guy that I’ve been around that has the natural instincts and natural ability to go get the ball when it’s in the air. We saw it a couple of times during the (2012) season, twice in one game (against the New York Jets). That was phenomenal.”

Maxie said the reasons for Griffin’s success at that involve his athletic ability and “tremendous range” to cover a considerable amount of space. Maxie also noted the way Griffin studies film of quarterbacks to spot indicators for where the ball might be going.

“During the course of the season he does a really good job of studying the quarterback, watching end zone film and trying to pick up any kind of tip that he can get that the quarterback has been doing when he’s going into a game,” Maxie said. “He knows when a guy is a looker, he might be able to pull the trigger a lot sooner than a guy that wants to look him off, pump one way and come back the other way.”

Tennessee opened 2012 by moving Griffin to strong safety and starting Robert Johnson at free safety for the first two games but moved Griffin back to free safety for the final 14 games.

The Titans added veteran free agents Bernard Pollard, who is likely to start at strong safety, and George Wilson, who can play strong safety or free safety, this offseason, allowing Griffin to hone in on the free safety position he prefers to play. With Johnson rehabbing a Lisfranc injury, Alterraun Verner took some snaps at free safety (click here to read about that) this offseason, but the plan is for Griffin to play the spot where he’s twice been named a Pro Bowler.

Maxie said Titans quarterbacks have been doing a good job of disguising where they are going with the football to force free safeties to exercise patience before committing on the ball.

Aside from enjoying his role at free safety, Griffin said he’s also liked seeing the other defensive elements that coordinator Jerry Gray and senior assistant Gregg Williams have installed and the approach that coaches and players want to continue through camp and the season.

“Really, it’s just getting everybody to do their jobs. It’s a team effort, so we’re really focused on each person doing their job,” Griffin said. “The main focus is trying to get everybody to understand, ‘if this guy does this and this guy does this’ and everybody works together, it will all come together.

“It’s not a ‘sit back on your heels and see what happens,’ it’s more of an attack defense,” Griffin added. “I can’t wait for this season to start because we’re doing everything we can to turn this program around.”

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