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Know the Foe: Team Tackling Important for Titans to Prevent 'Beast Mode'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The first contact occurred near the line of scrimmage.

It wasn't enough, and neither were subsequent tackling attempts as Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch ran through and threw down New Orleans defenders during his remarkable 67-yard touchdown run. The late score helped the Seahawks finish the Saints in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs after the 2010 season.


The Titans have seen this week what impact missed tackles can have if defenders fail to take down Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch.

Prior to this week, most every Titans player had seen the run, either as it happened, on various highlight shows or online. This week, they saw it again, along with similar runs as an example of what can happen if defenses allow Lynch to enter "Beast Mode."

Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray was with the Seahawks that season, but senior defensive assistant Gregg Williams was with the Saints.

"He's one of the best tackle-breaking backs in the National Football League," Williams said. "I've had a lot of nightmares with him. The way you have to tackle him is with population as much as possible, with more than one person because he's made a living out of making one person pay. I think that's one of the things we've done well here, is continuing to emphasize swarm tackling and we've been a very, very good tackling team.

"We're always measured on those things each week," Williams added. "We measure our tackling stats on misses and yards after contact and everything and our guys have improved and last week had one of the best weeks of anywhere I've ever coached."

Williams said the highlights were shown to players "to prove a point on what we're going to have to do as a defense" and build a respect factor for the technique that it's going to take.

Titans safety Michael Griffin has previously talked about the importance of team tackling and said that will be even more important Sunday when Tennessee (3-2) visits Seattle (4-1) at 3:05 p.m. (CT) Sunday.

"The first person has to get in, wrap up and hold on for the rest of the cavalry to get there," Griffin said. "He's a big back. It takes everybody to bring him down."

Cornerback Jason McCourty said stopping the run is central to every game plan, but with Lynch "it's a little bit tougher."

"The guy's nickname is 'Beast Mode' for a reason so we're going to have to gang tackle and get as many people to the ball," McCourty said.

Tennessee's defense ranks 14th in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 103.2 yards per game, but has allowed 4.34 per carry, which ranks 24th.

Lynch is averaging 4.3 per rush attempt, with 410 yards on 96 carries and three touchdowns.

Titans running back Chris Johnson described Lynch as "a good friend of mine" and said he likes the seven-year pro's game, even though it contrasts with his speedy style.

"He's a guy that when his career first started he started off kind of slow and then these last couple of years he's been putting out big numbers," Johnson said. "He's a pretty good guy, breaks a lot of tackles. I like his game."

Gray also likes Lynch's game from the year they spent together in Seattle but will want to see less out of the back this week. "Lynch is just good. His attitude reminds you of Jim Brown. He has an old-school mentality of running the football," Gray said. "He likes contact and he's going to try to punish you with the ball in his hands. The guy loves playing the game. Now, we're going against him and you've got to convince your guys that we've got to have the same intensity he has because he's going to try to keep his legs moving and keep going."

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