Titans: Morgan and Orakpo are balanced LB combo
Three years removed from their last winning season, the Tennessee Titans are trying to turn around their recent woes. They’ve made nearly a dozen moves in free agency, but two in particular stand out—signing a nice combination of linebackers in Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo.
Drafted by the Titans in 2010, Morgan recently signed a four-year deal to remain in Nashville. Last year Morgan produced results against both the run and pass. Rushing from the left 68.3% of the time, Morgan had Pass Rush Productivity of 8.9. Although that was slightly below average for outside linebackers, his 43 total QB pressures ranked 16th of 47 and was the highest for any AFC South OLB. Not only could he rush the passer, he was also good in coverage—his +4.7 coverage grade was the highest for all OLBs. Against the run Morgan’s 5.6 stop rate only ranked 24th, but his 24 run stops were tied for second-most.
Orakpo comes over from the Washington Redskins where he spent the first six years of his career. Last season Orakpo had a 7.9 Run Stop rate, good for sixth among OLBs. While Morgan lined up mostly on the left side, Orakpo rushed the passer from the right on 72.5% of pass plays. Overall, Orakpo rushed the QB on 80.6% of pass plays (Morgan 70.9%), however Orakpo’s PRP was lower than Morgan’s at only 8.1.
It will be interesting to see how former Pittsburgh defensive coordinator and Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau utilizes his new team’s linebacking core. LeBeau asks his linebackers to do many things and both Morgan and Orakpo have demonstrated that they are well-rounded defenders. Titans fans should be optimistic about their 2015 defense and the pieces that are in place.