So exactly what is this chain that the Tennessee Titans’ defensive line has on the sidelines for each game?
It is an idea defensive line coach Jim Washburn brought to the group in his first year on the job back in the Super Bowl season of 1999.
Each player’s name is taped on a link of the chain and on Saturday nights during position meetings, each player pledges not to be the weak link that breaks the chain.
“It was brought out the night before the game, so Saturday night we’d link up with everybody saying their part that I’m not going to be the weak link,” Kearse said. “That’s our part, and that’s our pledge, and you’ve got to go out and back it up on game day.”
Washburn didn’t want to talk about the ritual of the chain, but said his players were welcome to discuss it.
“That’s our little thing that we started my first year when I got here,” defensive end Jevon Kearse explained. “We don’t want to be the weak link. Everyone has a number that’s taped on the chain, and it’s all about not being the weak link. If you have a weak link, then the chain breaks, and it all starts up front.”
Kearse went on to say that it helps to ensure that the defensive line is strong, thereby making the entire defense strong as well.
“As long as none of us are the weak link on the team, then we’re gonna be strong and be the strength of the team. But it’s just a matter of going out and proving it,” Kearse said.
The chain from the first year when the Titans went to Super Bowl XXXIV has been put up, according to Kearse, who added that a new chain is brought out for each season.
The chain simply is a reminder, says defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
“It’s just holding yourself accountable. I don’t need a chain to tell me that, but you’ve got to hold yourself accountable so as not to be the weak link on this defensive line,” Haynesworth said.
So far, the chain must be working, as the Titans have yielded only 17 points this season in two games, are No. 1 against the run and have eight sacks through two games.