Glennon's Take: Titans Pass-Rushers Looking to Seal the Deal

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans have had no problem harassing opposing quarterbacks this season.

It's catching them that's been the issue.

So here's the question: Is an abundance of the former enough to offset a lack of the latter?

Heading into Sunday's game against Baltimore, the Titans have piled up 102 quarterback pressures through seven contests, a much higher figure than the 78 the team had compiled in its first seven games of 2016.

That's what makes the Titans' low sack totals hard to figure.

Through seven games last year, the Titans had already piled up 20 sacks on the way to finishing with 40.

So what gives?

"There's really no method to (explain) it," Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "It will balance itself out eventually. We pressure the quarterback and the numbers will come. We're not obsessed with numbers.

"I don't care about sacks, as long as we affect the quarterback. If I finish the season with 1.5 sacks and we're going to the playoffs, I don't care. I've been saying that since day one."

In defense of the Titans' low sack totals, the team has faced a number of elusive quarterbacks – such as Seattle's Russell Wilson, Houston's Deshaun Watson, Cleveland's DeShone Kizer and Indianapolis' Jacoby Brissett.

On the other hand, Brissett has been sacked 29 times this season, more than any other quarterback in the league. But the Titans weren't able to record a sack of Brissett in his 37 passing attempts earlier this season.

Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan, who leads the team with 4.5 sacks, figures there are probably a few reasons the team total is lower than expected.

"I don't think it's just one thing – it's a lot of moving parts," Morgan said. "We've played some very mobile quarterbacks. (Outside linebackers) also might have been in coverage more than we were last year, so some of it depends on the scheme we're in.

"You never know when the sacks will come. You just hope you can be consistent with getting them. But the good thing is the pressures are higher than last year."

One could make a pretty strong argument that those increased quarterback pressures this year are indeed making an impact.

Consider some of the following numbers:

• The Titans are allowing opponents a third-down success rate of just 35 percent, which ranks eighth in the league and is a slight improvement over last year's 37 percent.

• The Titans are forcing an average of 1.4 turnovers per game, better than last year's 1.1 rate.

• The Titans have lowered their opponents' completion percentage a shade from last year, from 61 to 60 percent.

"Just because the sacks don't come doesn't mean you're not playing at a high level," Morgan said. "(Orakpo), for instance, was all over the quarterback in Cleveland. He really won that game single-handedly for us. He wasn't (recording sacks), but he was in the backfield the majority of the second half of the game – affecting the quarterbacks."

Still, there's a reason Titans coach Mike Mularkey has said he considers sack totals behind only turnover ratio when it comes to factors that decide games.

Pressures can be effective in terms of stopping drives or creating turnovers. But sacks almost always have a greater degree of certainty.

"It's good in some situations to get a pressure so you can cause an incompletion or force the quarterback to throw the ball out or whatever," Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey said. "But at the end of the day, a sack means loss of yardage. That's what we need to start getting to. We need to help out our back end."

And who knows what might happen when a quarterback suffers a punishing sack?

"The quarterback is probably the worst person on the field to control the football in his hand," Casey said. "If you can get that pressure on him and get that hit on him, he's going to cough that ball up once or twice. That's the difference between sack and pressure."

— Reach John Glennon at glennonsports@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @glennonsports.

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TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Baltimore Ravens. (Photos, Donn Jones, AP)

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