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Notebook: Titans Post Six Sacks of Falcons

Posted Aug 25, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Defensive linemen Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey partly credited Tennessee’s secondary for the six sacks of Atlanta’s QBs during the Titans’ 27-16 win Saturday at LP Field.

The Titans were able to collapse the pocket against Atlanta and sack Matt Ryan five times. Click here for a slideshow from the game.

Other aspects could be attributed to making it an emphasis this week and executing on multiple opportunities created by the Falcons’ commitment to passing from the pocket with Matt Ryan.

“We had an emphasis going into this game to get after the quarterback and disrupt the passer and give us a chance,” Morgan said. “We know Atlanta has a really explosive offense. The secondary gave us a chance to get back there and gave us time to get back there and disrupt it.”

The first sack, which was shared by Moise Fokou and Karl Klug, forced a field goal by Atlanta after the Falcons had moved deep into Tennessee territory. The second, which was shared by Casey and Kamerion Wimbley forced a punt and denied Atlanta the opportunity to answer Tennessee’s first scoring drive.

Morgan recorded the next sack on Atlanta’s next possession to force another punt after the Falcons had moved the ball to midfield, and Mike Martin got in on the action on what wound up being the final play of the first half when he and blitzing safety George Wilson overloaded Atlanta’s line of scrimmage.

“We got a feel of what they were doing after that first drive,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “We were able to get some pressure with the guys up front. I think there (were) five sacks among the starting group which was good to see. You could see the confidence growing as we started getting stops, getting the quarterback. That is what we were hoping to see, also. That’s what we were hoping to be able to do. I thought the linebackers did a good of bringing pressure also.”

Casey surged through the line on Atlanta’s opening possession of the second half, wrapping up Ryan with an athletic play, and linebacker Kadarron Anderson sacked reserve QB Dominique Davis late in the fourth quarter to round out the six-pack of sacks. Casey said he was pleased with the amount of Titans defenders that were collapsing the pocket and converging on the QB.

“Every time it was all four of us almost around the quarterback getting to him,” Casey said. “We’ve been working hard in practice in trying to get to the quarterback. We’ve all got goals in breaking records this year. In order to get that done, we’ve got to all help each other out.  We all have been working as a unit. It’s great when you have everybody around you to make things much easier.”

PHYSICAL SECONDARY: Part of the defensive plan was for defenders to be more physical with Falcons receivers, and the Titans felt like they generally accomplished that.

“I thought this week with the game plan and our assignments and what we wanted, we did a really good job,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “Our corners got hands on receivers, safeties got hands on tight ends, the defensive line rushed their tails off, our linebackers played, we showed some packages. This is what we want. It’s all about confidence and as long as we continue to build on this, we’ve got a lot of big things coming this year.”

The combination of Ryan and Davis went 18-for-33 passing for 243 yards with one touchdown (Davis to Darius Johnson in the third quarter) and one interception, which was recorded by linebacker Jonathan Willard, an undrafted rookie who gained national notoriety when he helped pull a family from a burning car on Interstate 40 as he traveled from South Carolina to Titans training camp last month.

NEXT MEN UP: Tennessee played without its three starting linebackers — Akeem Ayers (ankle), Colin McCarthy (hamstring) and Zach Brown (foot) — from 2012 and without projected starters Sammie Hill and Ropati Pitoitua on the defensive line. Moise Fokou made his third start of the preseason at middle linebacker, and veterans Patrick Bailey (for Ayers) and Tim Shaw (for Brown) made their first starts of the preseason.

Veteran Antonio Johnson filled in for Hill and rookie Lavar Edwards started in place of Pitoitua.

Casey said he and Morgan talked about taking “it up a notch” to compensate for the number of guys who were banged up.

“In order to be a dominant defense, we’ve got to make sure we can do it without the other guys, and when they come back, it’s going to take us to an even higher level,” Casey said.

LOCKED IN: It took two possessions before Tennessee’s offense began to click, but when it did, quarterback Jake Locker was on the mark.

Locker completed 11 of 13 passes for 133 yards and a passer rating of 134.9. He said the more important stat was Tennessee having the bigger number on the scoreboard.

“We won. That’s all I care about,” Locker said. “It was how we wanted to play. We came out and executed. We were able to continually move the ball and stack completions together. I think any time you’re able to do that, you give yourself a lot better of a chance of having the outcome we did tonight. That’s what you shoot for always.”

Munchak said Locker continued a solid preseason and receivers avoided drops that loomed large a week before at Cincinnati.

“I think he just made some great throws,” Munchak said. “I thought the guys dropped the ball last week, and we were doing some things we normally wouldn’t do. Kenny (Britt) had some nice catches, Nate (Washington), spread it around pretty well, (Justin) Hunter, (Michael Preston). He threw the ball good, made good decisions. The two-minute drive, he did a good job with that. I think he got a lot of good work in tonight. It was great to see him, really just get better every week. This is the third week and he has gotten better with what we have had him doing since the first preseason game.”

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