I rarely write this kind of post, but this fits what I think well enough I think it’s worth a post of its own. My FO colleague Doug Farrar, who runs Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner blog, does a weekly podcast with NFL Films guru extraordinaire Greg Cosell, who produces the NFL Matchup Show. Talking about the Titans in this week’s episode, here’s what Greg had to say:
Well, I gotta tell you, here’s what I think every time I watch Hasselbeck, and I’ve seen every game on film. I haven’t gotten to the one this week yet, but I’ve seen every other one from this year. And every time I watch Hasselbeck, I say the same thing to myself: he throws to the right receiver, at the right time, with accuracy. And, just, I hate to sound cliched, but he understands defenses, he understands his offense, the route combinations, where people will be when they’re supposed to be there. And you mentioned to the red zone, he has a great understanding that things speed up in the red zone, Doug, and that every thing has to happen a little bit faster. And there’s a lot of quarterbacks that’s can’t understand that or can’t make that leap in their actual play.
The first part of that is exactly what I’m seeing from Matt Hasselbeck in a nutshell, and then the thing about the red zone is another really great point, and in fact the Titans rank first in the NFL in red zone passing in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rating. One thing I sort of tried to hint at in my post earlier this week, but now have the updated numbers on, is the Titans are also particularly good on third down, where they rank third in the league in DVOA, even though they’re almost insanely pass-heavy.
The broader question is, can the Titans keep it up? I think Hasselbeck thus far is doing an awful lot of things that look like repeatable skills. The key is to find a second and third receivers, beyond Washington, who will consistently be in the right place for Hasselbeck to throw them the ball, and of course the defense. That’s a topic for another post, though.