Skip to main content

New Titans DC Dennard Wilson aims to cultivate an 'attacking defense' in Tennessee

It's no secret what type of philosophy new Titans defensive coordinator Dennard Wilson aims to cultivate.

During his introductory news conference this week, Wilson detailed the basic mission of his undertaking, and it's an attitude that was sorely lacking in Tennessee last season.

"Football, it's not about the scheme, it's about the players," Wilson said, via the team's official website. "So, we have to figure out what they do well, and we'll put the scheme around them to allow their talents to flourish. I can tell you this about the scheme, and I learned this a long time ago, General George Patton said this: 'Nobody ever defended anything successfully. You are going to attack, and attack some more.'

"We are going to be an attacking defense. We are going to be violent in our approach. We are going to be smart, we are going to be intelligent, we are never going to compromise for competing, and that is the brand of football we are going to play around here."

The Titans defense finished middle of the pack in yards allowed across all categories but mightily struggled to force turnovers in 2023, finishing 31st in the league in total takeaways (14) and last in interceptions (six).

A stout defense is what largely made Mike Vrabel's tenure as head coach successful the past six years, which included two AFC South titles and a 2019 appearance in the AFC Championship Game. But consecutive losing seasons led Tennessee to fire Vrabel after the 2023 season, forging a path for first-year head coach Brian Callahan's arrival.

At his side, Callahan said the first-year DC will have authority to operate the defense the way he sees fit. Wilson plans to mold a blitzing unit that will rely on the strengths of its talent.

"For me, if I see a talented player, I feel like I can get the best out of them," Wilson said. "Any player that I have ever been around, the first thing I am going to do: I pride myself in being a hell of a teacher. I am going to motivate them to be better than they think they should be or reach the potential they are supposed to. And I am going to inspire them to go get it."

With several starters slated to become free agents this offseason, including Denico Autry, who led the team in sacks (11.5), and Azeez Al-Shaair, the team's leading tackler (163), it's unclear who will fully comprise Wilson's defense. However, with Jeffery Simmons, Arden Key and Harold Landry under contract, therein lies a great base for Wilson's plan of attack.

The 41-year-old Wilson has been around highly successful defenses along his 12-year NFL coaching career, particularly in the last two seasons. Wilson was the defensive backs coach in Baltimore last year and was instrumental in Kyle Hamilton's growth into one of the league's elite safeties. In 2022, Wilson held the same title on an Eagles team that dominated its way toward an appearance in Super Bowl LVII. Each of those defenses respectively led the league in sacks with Wilson's unit dutifully covering the back end.

Wilson aims to bring that same kind of relentless drive to Tennessee.

"We are going to talk about effort, and the way we play," Wilson said. "We are going to talk about having obnoxious communication. We are going to talk about brotherhood, playing as one. A team that fails to connect is a team that fails to win. So, the connection, and the way we play, the way we communicate, the way we jell, that is going to allow the defense to come to life.

"Because when they believe in one another and they trust in one another to execute their assignment and play at a high level, that is when you get outstanding, violent defenses."

Related Content