A couple weeks ago, I introduced Upon Further Review, my almost wholly derivative play-by-play analysis of each Titans’ offensive play from the previous week’s game. Thanks in part to electronics perfidy and an occasionally demanding day job, this appears other than it otherwise might have, but (1) better but sometimes never is the story of my blogging experience and (2) you get what you pay for.
Without further ado, I’m proud to present the full PBP breakdown. As per the norm, this appears on my size for massive, soul crushing-tabled related reasons. You, dear Total Titans reader, get the highlights after the jump, as well as comments looking ahead to this Sunday’s game against the Colts.
The biggest question, and the one I have the best confidence in answering, is how Vince Young did. For that, I refer you to the passing chart:
Confused? See the passing chart explanation. Shorthand: CA = fine, IN = bad, PR = bad but not VY’s fault, BR = bad. The Titans mostly kept the passing game short and easy for VY. He had trouble throwing the ball downfield, but thankfully didn’t try it very often and it wasn’t required to pull off the win. The absence of DO is largely a result of this short passing game focus, as I am loath to award the high grade to throws less than 15 yards downfield.
For a full panegyric to the running game, I direct you to the play-by-play. To those looking for the short version, here are a couple things that helped the Titans be so successful running the ball:
1. The Titans frequently played in 3 and 4-WR sets, spreading the Jaguars out.
2. The Jaguars frequently played against those 3 and 4-WR sets with two deep safeties, leaving only 4 DL and 1-2 LB against 5 linemen and a TE or RB.
3. The Titans did a very good job of at least holding their own in the 1v1 battles. Stroud and Henderson, the Jaguars’ two respected defensive tackles, did not dominate the game.
4. The Titans abused MLB Mike Peterson with cutback lanes. S Gerald Sensabaugh also did not have a good game, frequently taking poor ankles and grasping at air.
5. Credit must be paid to the Chris Brown. He had a truly outstanding game running the ball behind the holes the offensive line provided, and, depending on how good the Jaguars’ run defense is over the rest of the year, probably had one of the couple best running games a back had on the year. He even converted a 3rd and 1, one of his traditional bugaboos.
The $64,000 question, of course, is how well the Titans can do against the Colts. The Colts were extremely impressive against the Saints in their opening game, only allowing 3 offensive points. The Colts’ speedy defense should be able to better react and close the holes than a very spread-out Jaguar defense, so the consistent 8-12 yard gains are more likely to be 5-8 yard gains-good, but not quite so dominating. The Titans will likely look to pass the ball more to keep the safeties, particularly Bob Sanders, away from the line of scrimmage. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Titans come in passing out of a bigger mix of formations than they seemed to use in the Jaguar game, trying to force the Colts safeties’ back into coverage and concentrate on the pass. Then again, starting off with more of a power running look, with frequent two TE and I-formation looks also wouldn’t surprise me.
One other note, on VY, Bob Sanders, and the Titans against the Colts rush defense. While the Titans rushed for over 200 yards in both games against the Colts, Sanders, who’s such a key part of the Colts’ run defense, was absent for the first game. The second game, while the Titans did indeed have over 200 yards rushing, that figure is very misleading. Travis Henry had 20 carries for 93 yards, broken down into 2 carries for 65 yards and 18 for 28. In short, he did not have the sort of consistent success the Titans had against the Jaguars and that is required for a successful run game. The Titans’ best rusher that game was Vince Young, who ran 9 times for 78 yards, almost all on scrambles. It was Vince Young making plays with his feet in the passing game, not the Titans’ rushing game, that was so successful on the ground against the Colts in the Titans’ 20-17 win last year. And VY, on his four scrambles against the Jaguars, was not hugely effective. For the Titans to beat the Colts, they’ll have to make plays in the passing game. VY will have to do better in the passing game, with his arms, his legs, or preferably both, for the Titans to be successful against the Colts. There’s no reason he can’t do it, and I have confidence Norm Chow will come up with a way he can be effective, but there’s a long way between the possibility to be effective and actually being effective.