Derrick Morgan was drafted in the First Round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the 16th pick overall out of Georgia Tech.
Since being drafted he has already had three different head coaches in Jeff Fisher, Mike Munchak and this season’s new Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt.
As everyone knows, when there is new coaching there is a new philosophy, and Whisenhunt along with his coaching staff are making philosophical changes on both sides of the ball.
For Morgan, the change is going to be getting adjusted to playing in a 3-4 defensive set that defensive coordinator Ray Horton is implementing this season, instead of the 4-3 defense that he has become accustomed to since being in Tennessee.
Morgan in the 4-3 defense almost exclusively had to worry about rushing the quarterback. The last two seasons Morgan has collected 12.5 sacks for his efforts.
Now with Ray Horton working his 3-4 defense into the mix, Morgan is going to be asked to do a little bit more. In the 3-4 set as an outside linebacker, he is still going to be a pass rusher, but you will also see Morgan drop back into pass coverage a little more often which is going to be a pretty big adjustment for him.
The work is definitely being put in by Morgan in order to make the adjustment to what Horton will be asking him to do.
In an article by Teresa M. Walker for titansonline.com, Morgan spoke about his mindset and the work he’s put in so far to make the adjustment:
”I think it’s all going to work itself out the way it’s supposed to. I’m embracing the change and a positive mindset about it. That’s just how I’m taking on this challenge and hoping to come out on top and make a good transition. The transition’s been going pretty good. Getting more and more comfortable every day, so it’s a learning process. But at the same time, it hasn’t been too drastic of a change. Just a few wrinkles here and there.”
The mental approach of Morgan to the game is not the only thing that has undergone a transformation during OTAs and preseason. His physical approach has changed as well with him dropping down to 258 pounds, as compared to the listed 271 pounds he was last season.
This weight loss should make him faster coming off the edge in the upright position he’ll more often than not be playing in while in the 3-4.
According to Titans right tackle, Michael Oher, he sees first hand the fruits of the work Morgan has put in during the offseason. This is what Oher was quoted as saying in that same titansonline.com article:
The Titans’ defense was ranked 16th overall in 2013 which is right in the middle of the league rankings. They were 11th in pass defense and 20th against the rush and as a team collected 37 sacks which was good for 21st in the league.
Tennessee’s improvement is going to hinge on the offense gaining some consistency which is a well known fact.
However, how quickly the Titans defense is able to make the adjustment to the new 3-4 defensive wrinkles being put in could ultimately speed up the overall success of the squad.
“Defense wins championships” is an age old mantra, and Derrick Morgan along with the rest of the Titans defense is going through a schematic facelift to keep that saying true.