NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Stephen Tulloch didn’t flinch.
I had a chance to ask him this week about the role of linebackers in Peyton Manning's 11 interceptions over his last three games, and the Titans' middle linebacker rattled them right off.
"I think it’s due to the fact that he’s off his spot. D-lines are getting pressure and making him move up in the pocket or move around and he’s out of his comfort zone. I’m sure he’ll figure out what’s going on and get it corrected.”
Tennessee linebackers have not been big contributors in the turnover department this season. Tulloch and Will Witherspoon each have one of the team’s 15 interceptions. ('Backers have just one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as well.)
To change that, the Titans will do their best to move Manning off his spot. It’s a theme that dates way back for Tennessee against Manning. When he was in his prime in Tennessee, Albert Haynesworth used to talk about Manning being average when he was off his spot.
Nobody’s making such bold claims now, but the intent is the same.
“It helps a lot,” defensive tackle Jovan Haye said. “Manning just wants to stay in the pocket. He has his pocket, he has his comfort zone. The only way to get him off being as great as he is is to get him off line, have him moving around the pocket, get him uncomfortable. If you just let him sit back there, he’s going to make things happen.
“We have a great game plan going in and we have the right guys to get him off the spot. But that doesn’t guarantee anything.”
The Titans were a great pass-rushing team early this year. They had 25 sacks through their first seven games and were 5-2. During the current five-game losing streak, they’ve got only eight sacks.
Manning might be better served to take a sack a bit more often rather than rush a throw that turns into a pick. But he hasn’t made his name tucking it and going down, or even throwing it away, and odds are against us seeing a lot of that now.