Yesterday the Titans signed former Ravens safety Bernard Pollard to a one year deal, adding the hard hitter to a group that includes newly signed former Bills safety George Wilson, Michael Griffin, Robert Johnson, Al Afalava and Markelle Martin (did not play his rookie year due to injury). I previously took a look at the George Wilson signing here A Look At New Titans Safety George Wilson. What does the Pollard signing mean for the Titans? Let’s take a look.
In 2012, the primary safeties for the Titans were Jordan Babineaux, Michael Griffin, Robert Johnson and Al Afalava. Suffice it to say that as a group the Titans safeties struggled that season. The Titans signed Wilson on February 22, 2013 and released Babineaux on March 13. Respectively, Babs and Griffin ranked 76 and 86 out of 88 safeties ranked per ProFootballFocus for safeties that played at least 25% of the time. PFF Safety Rankings 2012
Johnson and Afalava don’t make the list because of their limited snap counts but if you look at all safeties Johnson was 124 out of 163 and Afalava was 57. The charts above are safeties who played at least 25 % of all defensive snaps. Wilson was ranked 8th and Pollard was ranked 29th. Without a doubt the Titans got better at the safety position with the addition of Wilson and Pollard.
In 2012, Wilson played 82.6% of the defensive snaps and was split fairly evenly between pass coverage and run defense. He really had a solid season with 79 solo tackles and 104 total tackles, 1 QB hit, 2 hurries, and 5 passes defended (per NFL.com. He was targeted 24 times with 13 receptions for a catch rate of 54.2%. It should be noted he led the team in tackles.
Like Wilson, Pollard led his former team in tackles at 98 with 71 solo. He added 2 sacks, 1 QB hit, 3 QB hurries, 2 batted passes, 1 interception and 6 passes defended (per NFL.com). He played 81.3% of the defensive snaps, was targeted 49 times with 33 receptions for a catch rate of 67.3%.
By contrast, the numbers for the Titans safeties speak for themselves. 2012 was not kind to the position by any stretch of the imagination. While statistics don’t tell the entire story, I firmly believe they are useful to help formulate a picture. Numbers don’t lie and by the numbers the Titans clearly got better at the safety position.
UPDATE: New safety Bernard Pollard talked the new helmet rule with SiruisXM Blitz and you can find it here: Bernard Pollard talks new helmet rule