For as long as the Tennessee Titans have been in Tennessee, their primary pass-rushers have unfailingly lined up in a three-point stance.
They have been 4-3 ends, undisguised in their attempts to create pressure, a hand in the dirt as they dug in to get off the ball as fast as possible.
In the new 3-4 base defense, there will be far more mystery about who is coming after the quarterback and who is not.
And some edge guys in some packages will have the chance to decide if they are more comfortable standing up or putting a hand down in a three-point stance.
Derrick Morgan figures to be on the line when the Titans are in their nickel package. Defensive line coach Giff Smith said Morgan is an end in that situation.
“He could be two- or three-point,” Smith said. “First of all, you’ve got to see can they rush out of either or? If they can only rush out of one, then you’re going to make them do everything out of one position.
"If you can rush out of both down and [a] two-point stance, then it enables you to disguise some stuff when you might be zone-pressuring and dropping in coverage. And what we do, we chart how much he’s up rushing, how much he’s down and how much he’s rushing and dropping, so there is not a tendency for [the] offense to [exploit].”
A guy like Morgan better be able to rush out of both, right? He’s experienced as a rusher out of a three-point stance. And if he’s an outside linebacker in the base defense, he will be off the line standing up.
Smith said Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, the two hybrid outside linebacker/ends, are both showing they can rush standing up or with a hand down. Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips has done both as well.
“Those three right there are confortable down or up.” Smith said. “So the disguise factor really helps us.”
The advantage of being down, from Smith: “You can explode quicker. I equate it to if you watch the Summer Olympics, you don’t see anybody in a two-point stance in the 100-yard dash.
The advantage of being up, from Smith: “I do think sometimes you have more of a visual part for an edge rusher to be able to stem. Because he can tell the slide of the center and whether the counter is there or not quicker from the up position.”