Titans likely need more, bigger leads for latest free agent addition to pay off

Presumably, his agent is going to get his cut of the deal Shaun Phillips signed with the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.

Theoretically, Peyton Manning deserves a piece of the action as well.

Phillips, a 32-year-old linebacker/defensive end, experienced a bit of a career renaissance when he recorded 10 sacks last season with Denver. It was only the second time in seven years he got to double figures and left him a mere one and a half shy of his career-high.

The Broncos’ offense, led by Manning, set an NFL record for points scored and won nine games by more than two touchdowns. That meant opposing teams were forced to throw often in attempts to come from behind.

Perhaps predictably, therefore, eight of Phillips’ 10 sacks came in games the Broncos won by an average an average of 15 points and opponents averaged 40.6 pass attempts. The vast majority of them came in third-and-long situations.

GETTING THERE
A breakdown of the down and distance on the plays Shaun Phillips recorded his 10 sacks in 2013:

First-and-10: 3.0
Second-and-3: 1.0
Third-and-7: 1.0
Third-and-8: 1.0
Third-and-9: 1.0
Third-and-10: 1.0 (two half sacks)
Third-and-11: 1.0
Third-and-12: 1.0

The Titans hosted Phillips, who has made his name by getting to the quarterback, and came to terms on the reported two-year, $6 million deal all in the same day.

For his career he has 79.5 career sacks in 152 games. He led the NFL with seven forced fumbles in 2009 and made the Pro Bowl in 2010, when he had 11 sacks. He has missed just eight games in his career but four were in 2011, when he managed just 3.5 sacks.

Phillips (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) is a 10-year veteran who spent his first nine with San Diego. The Chargers drafted him in the fourth round of Purdue, where he graduated as the school’s all-time sacks leader.

“Shaun is an athletic pass rusher, who has been a productive player his entire career,” Titans general manager Ruston Webster said in a release to announce the addition. “His flexibility is an asset as well – being raised as a 3-4 linebacker and having success in as a 4-3 end last year. He will add to our mix of pass rushers and improves that group from a production and experience standpoint.”

It obviously will help if the Titans play with the lead a little more often this fall, though.