There were several disappointments for a Tennessee Titans' defense that struggled for the most part in 2009. However, the poor performance that stood out the most was the baffling fall from grace experienced by former Pro Bowl safety Michael Griffin.
Coming off a trip to the Pro Bowl and a superb second season in the league, Griffin was often the target of opposing quarterbacks last year due to constantly falling for play-action fakes. "Griff" went from being perhaps the team's best defensive playmaker to being on the receiving end of several big plays made by opposing offenses.
Will Griffin return to his previous Pro Bowl-caliber form in 2010?
Griffin's struggles came out of nowhere, like a thief in the night. After registering an impressive 7 interceptions for 172 yards and a score in 2008, Griff was poised to continue his emergence as one of the league's top safeties. Unfortunately, his performance trended in the opposite direction, as his playmaking declined (only 1 interception) while also becoming a huge liability on defense.
Things got so bad for Griff that it became rational to compare his performance to that of the immortal Lamont Thompson, a Titan who was known for his matador defense as opposing receivers often flew by his coverage.
Some of Griffin's decline can be attributed to adjusting to life without Albert Haynesworth. Without the services of the quick and agile behemoth, the Titans' pass-rush struggled at times, which led to the team's defensive backs having to cover longer. As much as we like to isolate Griffin's performance as bad, he wasn't the only defender who struggled in 2008.
However, there's no way that we can excuse Griff's propensity for falling for the pump-fake last year. Far too often did we see opposing wideouts trotting freely down the field as a result of Griff's failing on yet another gamble.
As bad as Griff played last year, due to his talent and the strides he had made only a year before, I'm somewhat optimistic that we will see the good Michael Griffin in 2010. Hopefully, he'll regain his ability to make plays instead of being on the opposite end of them.
Will Griff bounce back in 2010? Feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments section below.