It became a familiar refrain as coach Mike Munchak and general manager Ruston Webster talked about the Tennessee Titans’ free agent acquisitions at a press conference last week.
“He is a guy we played against last year,” Munchak said.
“He played well against us on Monday Night Football,” Webster said.
“We’ve played against a lot of them,” Munchak said.
To be precise, four of the five players from other organizations who signed with Tennessee last week played against Tennessee last season. Most of them played pretty well too.
The exception was tight end Delanie Walker, but the franchise officials had plenty of opportunity to watch him play in January when he and his San Francisco 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl.
It creates the impression that study of game film and statistics is important but first-hand observation carries a lot of weight for the franchise’s current decision-makers.
A look at how the newest members of the Titans fared against their new team last season:
• Sammie Hill, defensive tackle, Detroit Lions
Titans 44, Lions 41 (OT), Sept. 23 at LP Field
The Titans’ 44-41 overtime victory hardly was a banner day for either defense. Hill was not credited with a tackle, but the same was true for two of the Lions’ other four defensive tackles, starter Corey Williams and backup Nick Fairley, both of whom played more snaps than Williams’ 13. Ndamukong Suh was credited with two stops on a day when the Titans threw it more than twice as many times (42) as they ran it (19).
Hill, however, did record as pass defensed when, on a first-and-10 from the Detroit 40, he got enough of a push that he made sure Jake Locker’s pass deep down the left side for Kenny Britt never got past the line of scrimmage.
Munchak says: “There’s nothing worse for an offensive line … than to have a guy that size pushing you and closing the pocket. It makes the quarterback uncomfortable. We feel he can play all three downs if necessary, so we’re excited about that and the push he can get. That makes your outside rushers even more valuable.”
• Andy Levitre, guard, Buffalo Bills
Titans 35, Bills 34, Oct. 21 at Ralph Wilson Stadium
The Bills rushed for 166 yards, their second-highest total of the season and averaged 6.9 yards per attempt. They also gave up just one sack. More telling was the fact that the Titans’ three defensive tackles — Jurrell Casey, Mike Martin and Sen’Derrick Marks — combined for just one solo tackle and two assists.
Four penalties were called against Buffalo’s offense, three of them against offensive linemen. Levitre was not penalized.
Munchak says: “For any player, the first word you want to hear is consistency. … You see the consistency, play in and play out, great hands, getting inside, hard to beat him, the effort, the finish. All the things you’re looking for in a player, we saw in him.”
• Moise Fokou, linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
Colts 19, Titans 13 (OT), Oct. 28 at LP Field; Colts 27, Titans 23, Dec. 9 at Lucas Oil Stadium
He was a role player in the season’s first meeting (12 plays on defense, eight on special teams) but was a much bigger factor in the second, when he was on the field for 29 defensive snaps and 20 special teams plays.
His three tackles against the Titans all came in the game at Indianapolis. It’s worth noting that all three were solo tackles against three of the most dynamic members of the offense — Jared Cook and Kenny Britt on passes, which gained seven yards total, and Chris Johnson on an eight-yard run.
Webster says: “He is a physical player who brings versatility and the ability to play special teams. He has experience at all three [linebacker] positions and will bring competition to the linebacker group.”
• Shonn Greene, running back, New York Jets
Titans 14, Jets 10, Dec. 17 at LP Field
Greene was his team’s leading rusher with 68 yards on 13 carries, a 5.2 yards-per-carry average that was his highest of the season. He was on the field for 47 percent of the snaps while Bilal Powell (six carries, 28 yards) was on the field 41 percent of the time.
Nine of Greene’s attempts came on first down and seven of them gained at least three yards. He had a two-yard gain, but that was on first-and-5, and he was stopped once for no gain.
Munchak says: “I love the way he runs. It’s downhill. It’s second-and-6, second-and-4, second-and-5 when you look up after a first-down run. That’s the game that was missing in our offense, so we felt that was a great addition.”