How the Titans were sacked in 2011, part five

I ran through the granular detail of how the Titans’ protection failed in parts one, two, three, and four of this series the past four days, and now it’s time to draw some conclusion-type things.

1. The Titans didn’t get sacked very often.
I mentioned this in beginning of part one, but it’s worth a reminder here: the Titans’ offensive line failed at times this year, resulting in some sacks, but it didn’t fail that often. I also only noted the times of actual failure that results in quarterback sacks; I didn’t go through and count every time a lineman failed in pass protection, just those that resulted in sacks.

2. Matt Hasselbeck was better at not getting sacked than Jake Locker.
I gave you the raw numbers, but not the totals, so it’s time to do that. For the year, Hasselbeck threw the ball 518 times and was sacked 19 times. That’s 27.3 attempts per sack, or 3.7% of the time. For Locker, it was 66 passing attempts and 5 sacks. That’s 13.2 attempts per sack, or 7.6% of the time. Even taking into account that Locker ran more often, he was sacked roughly twice as often as Hasselbeck. Fully acknowledging that Locker’s numbers came in a small sample size, the Titans had roughly the league’s best pass-protecting line with Matt Hasselbeck and the league’s 24th-best pass-protecting line with Jake Locker in. This is one reason not to be surprised if Hasselbeck begins 2012 as the Titans’ starting quarterback.

3. Matt Hasselbeck fumbled four times on his sacks. That’s not a big deal.
Pretty simple here: the league-average rate for fumbles on sacks is 18.0%. You should expect a quarterback on 19 sacks to fumble the ball 3 or 4 times. That’s just what Hasselbeck did. Are they aggravating and frustrating to watch? Absolutely, but expecting a quarterback not to fumble at all on sacks is unrealistic.

4. Stunts and twists gave the Titans problems at times.
This was something I mentioned at various times during the season. The Titans realized this, and tried to account for that. If you kept getting annoyed at Eugene Amano for setting up so deep, the main reason for that is to make it harder for rushers to come free up the middle. Amano wouldn’t necessarily pick a player up, but he would normally at least slow him down and prevent him from coming free.

5. The tackles were outstanding.
Edge pressure isn’t a total myth against the Titans. Dave Stewart was, after all, beaten a few times, and remains vulnerable to the occasional outside rush, particularly the speed rush. Roos gave up his customary sack. For most teams, though, the tackles are the players most responsible for pass pressure against. That wasn’t true for the Titans.

6. The interior trio was far from outstanding.
The flipside to point 5, interior linemen normally aren’t responsible for that many sacks against. Each of Scott, Harris, and Amano was charged for at least 2.5 sacks in J.J. Cooper’s sack project, which is a fairly high amount for a team that didn’t give up very many sacks at all. Related to point 4, they didn’t seem to work together as well or as smoothly as I’d expect for a group that returned intact from 2010, and they each failed individually as well.

7. The Titans were not a heavy-protection team in 2011.
This was sort of a recurring sub-theme, but several of the sacks came when the Titans were in an empty formation. Even when they weren’t in empty, that didn’t mean Chris Johnson was involved as a blocker. The Titans’ predominant protection scheme last year was only the 5 offensive linemen blocking. This should be a future post, as there are a number of somewhat interesting things going on.

I’d say those are the main takeaways I got from this little series. If there’s anything you want me to elaborate on, or anything you got from the various posts, I’d be interested in seeing what you think, either in terms of the OL, how it failed, or how you liked the series. It may not be next week, but I plan to do the same thing for the Titans’ sacks in 2011.

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