Field position and the Titans’ defense

I’ve been concentrating on how the Titans’ offense has done in my look at field position, so this week it’s time to look at the other side of the ball.

Remember how the Titans are having trouble turning possessions that start in opposing territory into points? Titans’ opponents are not having the same problem at all, no siree, absolutely not. They’re not starting many possessions there, only two-thirds as often as the Titans start there, but they’re averaging 4.17 points per possession, over double what the Titans were doing before Sunday and even better than the Titans did in the second half of 2009 or either half of 2010.

The good news is, the Titans (through Week 12) are more productive in drives starting in every other area of the field than their opponents. Between the 21 and 49, Titans opponents are averaging 1.76 points per possession to the Titans’ 1.89. Drives from the 20 are particularly unproductive, as opponents are only averaging 1.08 points per possession even after the Bills scored 17 points on drives from there. The numbers are of course, flexible, and not particularly meaningful; like the Titans, their opponents are averaging more points on drives starting inside the 20 than they are on drives at the 20.

If there’s any sort of lesson here, it’s probably that the Titans should concentrate on not letting their opponents get particularly good field position. There hasn’t been a single cause that’s let team get good field position, but rather it’s come split almost equally between kickoffs, punts, fumbles, and interceptions.

One cautionary note, though: I’m taking raw number of drives here, and the number of possessions is dependent on the offense the Titans are playing. Thus, you’re getting 14 or 15 drives worth of Carolina or Indianapolis, two teams that struggled against the Titans, and 7 or 8 of Atlanta and Houston, teams that were much more successful. I haven’t worried about this in doing the offensive numbers, since it’s always the same offense and I don’t think opponent adjustments really need to be that strong, but they’re a bigger factor here and I’m intentionally completely ignoring them.

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