The Tennessee Titans defense ranked second to last in the NFL with only 28 sacks last season. From an advanced metrics perspective, the Titans also ranked 31st with a 5.0% "Adjusted Sack Rate", according to Football Outsiders. Karl Klug, a 2011 fifth-round pick who had played in less than half (45.24 percent) the team's defensive snaps, finished with a quarter of the team's quarterback takedowns.
To improve the pass rush, the Titans hired Keith Millard to be a "pass-rush assistant" and signed Kamerion Wimbley to a five-year, $35 million contract that included $13.5 million in guaranteed money. Wimbley's production (16 sacks the past two seasons) should help the pass rush, which is going back to the basics under Millard.
"A lot of this stuff is new to a lot of these guys, and even talking to some of the veterans, they're telling me, 'Coach, I've never learned this stuff before," Millard said, via John Glennon of The Tennessean. "It's amazing (considering who) some of the guys they've been coached by. You'd think they'd have (been taught).
"So it's a process. It's a work in process, and it always is everywhere I've been. But everywhere I've been, we've always gotten (there) as long as we keep working. And they're working great."
A former first-round pick, two-time Pro Bowl player and NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1989), Millard's success as a player gives him plenty of credibility as a coach. Millard also has extensive coaching experience with the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, but he hasn't always produced results.
Millard joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' staff as a pass-rush coach after being away from the game for two years. Whether it was due to a lack of time to work with a young group because of the lockout, or the injury to Gerald McCoy, the Buccaneers' defense was dead last in sacks (23) and was 30th in FO's "Adjusted Sack Rate" last season.
Glennon accurately notes that Millard's success will be gauged by what he can extract from 2010 first-round pick Derrick Morgan, who has just four sacks in a 19-game career that has been slowed by calf and knee injuries.
"I know I can speak for myself last year and say that I was slipping into bad habits," Morgan said. "I wasn't really working the technique like I needed to. But Millard is very critical with every little thing, every little detail. He wants us to perfect everything."