Da'Norris Searcy Wants to be a "Game-Changer" in 2016


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Da'Norris Searcy made that highlight-reel play every defender loves to make, but he had to wait for it -- all the way until the season-finale, in fact.

That's when the Titans safety recorded his first interception with the team, picking off a pass against the Colts. It set up a touchdown.

"I was due, huh?,'' Searcy said with a smile afterward.

After playing his first four seasons with the Bills, the Titans signed Searcy to a four-year deal in March. He started at safety alongside veteran Michael Griffin, playing in 15 of 16 games. Searcy didn't have as many "splash" plays as he would've liked in 2015, but coaches were pleased with his performance.

Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton praised Searcy for his unselfishness.

"He did exactly what we asked,'' Horton said of Searcy. "He patrolled, and really, he put his ego to the side and said "OK, I'll do what you guys ask me to do. He didn't freelance and go where he wanted to. Stats are important, but sometimes you have to do the dirty work and make sure you're where you're supposed to do to protect the defense. And the defense got better.

"I am not disappointed with what he did at all. He has range, he has fantastic hands, and he is smart. And I expect him to have a better year next year because he learned our defense."

Searcy finished the season with 54 tackles, a half-sack, four passes defensed, and the interception of Colts quarterback Josh Freeman.

Searcy had three interceptions in his final season with the Bills, in 2014, and now has six in his five-year NFL career.

"They knew when they brought me in I was an aggressive type safety, and they knew I was smart, and could read formations and different routes.  But I had to sacrifice jumping routes to protect guys in the defense,'' Searcy said. "You could say I sacrificed a lot for the good of the defense, and we (finished) in the top 10 in pass defense (7th).

"Sure, I want to make more flash plays. I want to be a game-changer on the defensive side of the ball. You have a lot of game-changers on offense, and I want to be mentioned in the same company as the other elite safeties. What separates those guys from everybody else is the ability to make game-changing plays, so I would love the opportunities to do that. But anything coaches needed me to do I was willing to do for the sake of the defense."

With a year under his belt with the Titans, Searcy isn't sure exactly what's in store around him.

Griffin has a year left on his contract, but his status is uncertain because of a hefty salary for 2016. Griffin talked about that uncertainty on numerous occasions at the end of the year. Right now, the Titans are also in the middle of interviews for the head coaching job.

Searcy has already set his goals for 2016, however.

"The two Ps -- playoffs and Pro Bowl,'' Searcy said. "That's what you want every year, but there's a lot more emphasis on it this coming season. This past season it was about coming to a new environment, and I was the new guy coming in. I didn't want to step on any toes, I wanted to come in and help.

"I definitely want to be more of a game-changer next season for this defense."


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