Seven players have worked as the Titans' primary starting middle linebacker since the team moved to Tennessee in 1997. Only Randall Godfrey rated as an every-down player by design. Other middle linebackers got a chance to play as part of the nickel package but Stephen Tulloch and Colin McCarthy were there mostly because the other two linebackers weren't good enough or experienced enough. The 2013 Titans are not only using middle linebacker Moise Fokou as a back in nickel he's the only linebacker on the field in dime -- a package they've played a great deal. Fokou's been mostly solid for the Titans. But he's not the dynamic linebacker Zach Brown is so I have been a bit surprised. I'm a big proponent of the best players being on the field the most but I'm also a big proponent of being a top-10 defense and the Titans are ninth through five games with Fokou as an every-down player. "We have found no reason to take Moses off the field" linebackers coach Chet Parlavecchio said. "It's been always a traditional [football] thing the 'Mike' linebacker runs the show. We have a situation here where our Mike is very comfortable. It's not just about him it's about getting everybody else lined up. It's not just about his production it's about allowing 10 other guys to produce. Because they are used to Moise -- the way he communicates defense adjustments the way he recognizes formation -- there is no reason to take that off the field. "Ten other guys are depending on him identifying the things necessary for us to get lined up. There is just no reason to do it. It's not just Moise versus Zach. Since Moise has run this thing since Day 1 he's the most comfortable. He understands what everybody needs to hear and I think the results speak for themselves." It's understandable reasoning for sure. The Titans are playing excellent third-down defense allowing conversions just 28.1 percent of the time. But according to John Parolin of ESPN Stats & Info Tennessee's opponents are converting 31.6 percent on third-and-6 or more and 23.1 percent on third-and-5 or less. That's backwards. Third-and-long should be tougher to convert than third-and-short. Perhaps part of the reason for that is their dime linebacker isn't their best linebacker against the pass. It's not the time for a change. But I do allow for the possibility that things could be even better with Brown who is a better pass defender than Fokou and should also be adept at lining people up as well. "It's frustrating it's frustrating for anybody to go to the sideline" Brown said. "But you've just got to do what you've got to do and sacrifice for the team and the greater good to win the game. You might not like it but you can't do nothing about it. "I know what to do if they asked me to do it I could do it. But I haven't been called upon yet. So I'm just playing my role."
Why Fokou is playing more than Brown
ESPN | Oct 10