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Opponent scouting report: Titans’ Jayon Brown is a playmaker at linebacker

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Jayon Brown has been a bright spot for a very good Titans defense.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are set to square off at home against the Tennessee Titans this week in a battle of division rivals. The Titans come in after two dominating wins against the Cowboys and Patriots, looking for their third straight victory. They are led by a stellar defense that ranks high in many statistical categories. They boast many Pro-Bowl caliber players such as Kevin Byard and Jurell Casey along with highly touted rookies in Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry.

With all of these high profile players filling out their defense, it is no wonder that former fifth round pick Jayon Brown is sliding under the radar.

Brown is having a phenomenal year in his second professional season. He has been all over the field for the Titans and has made many clutch plays that have propelled the team to victory. For the year, Brown has tallied 55 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss, 6 QB hits, and 4.5 sacks. Here is my scouting report on the most underrated player on the Titans’ defense.


College:

UCLA

Measurables:

Height: 6’0” / Weight: 226 / Age: 23

40 Yard Dash: 4.70 / Bench Press: 17 reps / Vert Jump: 31.5 / Broad Jump 120


Strengths

Rush Defense

Brown is an excellent run defender despite his smaller frame. He understands his run fits very well and fills holes with ease. He is great at sifting through space and still being able to locate the ball carrier. When he does locate the ball carrier, he is a very sound tackler as he breaks his hips down and makes good, clean tackles.

He is best when operating in tight spaces when engaging ball carriers. He does tend to struggle with bigger lineman having their way with him at times but overall he understands his assignment and gets to his desired landmark to make a play.

Here Brown (#55) makes an excellent play between the tackles against Ezekiel Elliott. He is able to bring down the All-Pro running back for a loss on the play.

Here Brown is the strong side linebacker. He steps up and reads the run immediately and is able to fill the run lane for a minimal gain.


Athleticism

Brown is an excellent athlete at linebacker and really fits the modern day mold for the position. Coming out of college, Brown was seen as a safety/ sub-linebacker hybrid by many analysts. Mark Dulgerian of NFL.com said that “Brown is an rangy weakside LB/safety hybrid who needs to earn his keep on passing down subpackages and on special teams” when he was coming out of college.

Obviously, Brown has built upon what those analysts thought back then and really has developed into more of a three down threat with his speed. His sideline-to-sideline ability and the ability to limit big plays are a huge asset to the Titans’ defense.

Here Brown is either in a spy on the quarterback or in a mid-zone. Regardless of assignment though, Brown is able to come from his coverage down the field and swallow up Josh Allen for a big sack. His ability to close ground this fast is quite impressive.


Pass Rush Ability

Brown is probably the best pass rushing linebacker in football at the moment. His athleticism is so key in this area as he is able to get into the backfield in a hurry by shooting gaps between lineman. He is unrelenting too as a pass rusher, as he is always involved in the play even if he is knocked down or blocked initially.

He currently has 4.5 sacks this season which is the most in the NFL among inside linebackers. Brown poses as one of the bigger threats this weekend to end the Colts’ streak of 4 games without allowing a sack.

Here Brown shoots right up the middle untouched to get to Carson Wentz for the QB hit. It is definitely worth noting that he blew past one of the league’s best centers in Jason Kelce on this blitz.

This next rep is an all star play from the sophomore linebacker. He initially gets knocked to the ground by the running back on the blitz. He is then able to get back to his feet and sack Dak Prescott. On top of all this, he also forces a huge fumble on the play.


Where The Colts Can Beat Him

Play Action w/ Tight Ends

Brown is a very aggressive linebacker who needs that aggression to be a good run defender. The Colts will likely try to exploit this aggressiveness with a lot of play action combos over the middle to tight ends.

Back before the Bills’ game, I wrote that the Colts should utilize their tight ends in playaction to expose linebacker Matt Milano over the middle (a player who is fairly similar to Brown). The result was this play right here for a touchdown.

If the Colts want to find similar success against the Titans, they should incorporate similar plays to exploit these linebackers. Brown is a very good, young linebacker but the Colts can win against him by isolating him with their talented tight end group and utilizing play action plays. Here is an example of the Bills doing it against him in a game earlier this season:

Allen misses the open throw across the middle but Brown gets beat badly by tight end Charles Clay here. I expect Frank Reich and Andrew Luck to notice this weakness of Brown’s a as a result, use their stout tight end group to much success on Sunday.


Final Thoughts

Brown is a very talented young player who is coming into his own in his second professional season. The Titans use him in a number of ways were he is able to maximize his talent and athleticism. He has developed into a very good run defender despite his size and he is one of the best pass rushing linebackers in the NFL.

Despite his strong play, though, Brown can be beat by Coach Reich and company. The Colts have one of the top tight end groups in the NFL and are a handful for any linebacker who is asked to line up against them. I expect a heavy dosage of these quick hitters off of play action to these tight ends to open up the run game and take advantage of Brown’s sometimes too aggressive play.

Overall Brown is a very fun and tenacious player who has excelled for one of the league’s top defenses. That being said though, it is going to take a huge game from him and the other key players on their defense to slow down one of the league’s hottest offenses.