2012W04 TD9

Where’s Michael?


It's time for a new parlor game here at Total Titans, namely "what the heck is going on when the Tennessee Titans give up a passing touchdown." Since we're all about the synergistic gain here at Total Titans, I'll be doing this in a series of photos highlighting Michael Griffin in a takeoff of the "Where's Waldo" series of books, thus your post title.
We begin with Aaron Hernandez's grab Week 1. Screenshot:

Yes, there's Michael Griffin on Hernandez, beaten in coverage. Robert Johnson in his deep safety role may have been supposed to be available to provide help for Griffin over the top, but he'd been pulled away when Rob Gronkowski beat his man on coverage on the play. The result, well, a touchdown.
And here's Gronkowski's touchdown from later that game:
Griffin bears no responsibility at all for this play, as he's harmlessly on the other side of the field. Instead, Jordan Babineaux got beat on the corner route.
Moving on to Week 2, we start with Dante Rosario's first touchdown on the afternoon:
Griffin made a brief move toward Rosario when he started his break but instead shifted over to cover the receiver on his half of the field. With no deep defender otherwise unengaged (see Robert Johnson in double coverage on the other side of the end zone), Rosario is unmolested.
Here's Rosario's second touchdown:
This one is pretty straightforward. Griffin is in what looks an awful lot like man coverage and Rosario beats him to the inside.
Rosario's third touchdown:
To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what defense the Titans are playing here. The one thing I can say with some confidence is that, whatever it is, not all eleven defenders on the field were playing it. Between one and three of Griffin, Jason McCourty, Akeem Ayers, and Will Witherspoon blew their assignment on this play, and that's about as specific as I feel comfortable getting.  Whichever player(s) are to blame, Rosario was unmolested when he brought in his third score of the game.
On to Week 3, and Nate Burleson was the first Lions player to catch a touchdown pass:
Griffin had lined up deep and moves over to cover the far receiver on that side of the field. The blame for this play seems to fall on Ryan Mouton, beaten to the inside. And yet, after the play was over, Mouton immediately looks over to Griffin and the two of them begin an earnest discussion as to what defense the Titans were playing on the play.
Shaun Hill's first touchdown pass, to Calvin Johnson:
Jason McCourty is in man coverage, lined up with outside technqiue to guard against the fade route. The Lions call a quick slant, and Hill gets the pass in there before Griffin, playing "deep" to that side, can break up the play.
Shaun Hill's second touchdown pass, that one:
Griffin is lurking in the back of the end zone, prepared to snare or otherwise handle a ball that is tipped farther downfield. Based on the geometry of players, that seems less likely than a ball tipped toward the line of scrimmage, but there may be a player who's supposed to be lurking there as well. Instead, well, you know what happened.
And now we get to last week's game. First, James Casey crossing the plane:
I've highlighted a horizontally-aligned Griffin here, as while I considered writing a post along these lines earlier, this play is one of the reasons I wrote this post. Griffin is a deep safety. His job is to come up and stop a player like Casey. He did not succeed at his task, and the result is a touchdown.
Finally, Owen Daniels scoring:
While Griffin is visible in the play, he'd aligned on the other side of the field. The culprits on this play were Akeem Ayers, beat in coverage, and Jordan Babineaux, whose tackle attempt was as effective this time as Griffin's was on Casey's score earlier in the game.
I don't mean to really pick on Michael Griffin here-the Titans' problems on defense go well beyond any individual player. As Jurrell Casey said on Monday, sometimes it looks on film like the players on defense are on completely separate pages. We can talk about why that is (hint: it boils down to Shmerry Shmray), but either way it's a major problem that's resulted in seven touchdown passes for tight end-type players this year. That's a pretty good total for an entire season. For four games, well, abominable is the (printable) word that comes to my mind.