How the Titans sacked the passer in 2012, part one

Like I did last offseason, I decided to cover in some detail how the Titans sacked the quarterback the past season. I disposed of the offense in a single overview post, because (a) there were a number of over-arching issues that affected how often Jake Locker (and Matt Hasselbeck, but he's gone now and I don't really care about him) was sacked in 2012 and what that tells us about 2013, and (b) I've already watched plenty of Deuce Lutui in my life, thank you very much. Unlike with the offense, though, I decided it was worth taking an in-depth look at those sacks to see how many of my conclusions from last year held up.

Rather than dumping things in one post, I'll be doing this in installments. This first post covers Weeks 1-9, the next two posts will cover the rest of the season in Chad Henne and non-Chad Henne editions, and I'll wrap things up on Friday with this year's version of conclusion-type things. Normal "Tom watching things" disclaimers apply, including that I don't know the offensive or defensive playcalls and am forced to infer things from watching these plays on video. All-22 helps a lot, but it doesn't tell me everything. Also, what I watched for this series of posts is only the sacks that were, not the sacks that could have been or even should have been.

That out of the way, on with the show.

Sack #1: Week 1, Kamerion Wimbley of Tom Brady
Wimbley beats LT Nate Solder to the outside with a shoulder dip and runs Brady down after he leaves the pocket. Assists to LDT Mike Martin, who beat the right guard easily for the flush, and Ryan Mouton for his coverage on Wes Welker.
 
Sack #2: Week 2, Will Witherspoon of Philip Rivers
"If you really want play-action, you better pull a guard" is an interesting piece of advice that never works for me when I play Madden. The Chargers here learn that "if you pull a guard when running play-action, make sure he doesn't trip the quarterback." Witherspoon sees Rivers falls down and converts to a rusher, one the center is too slow to pick up.
 
Sack #3: Week 2, Mike Martin of Rivers
The Titans run a T-E stunt to their left side, and LDT Martin bulls RT Jeromey Clary back. When Rivers steps up because of Wimbley's pressure (off a bull rush, surprisingly, as LT Mike Harris gets far enough outside he can't go around him). When Rivers steps up, Martin slides off Clary for the cleanup.
 
Sack #4: Week 2, Derrick Morgan of Rivers
Morgan comes off his outside rush of Clary with a spin move and brings down Rivers as he steps up in the pocket.
 
Sack #5: Week 2, Zach Brown of Rivers
Brown comes hot off a wide edge. The back runs a swing pattern and I assume Rivers thought he was Brown's man. Brown rushes and gets to Rivers before he can get the pass off and jars the ball free. The Chargers recover. It's a good thing Brown gets there, because otherwise this play may have been gone for a touchdown.
 
Sack #6: Week 3, Akeem Ayers of Matt Stafford
Ayers is lined up wide, outside the wing tight end. He goes out on a pass pattern, and the Lions don't seem to have accounted for Ayers in their protection. Nice to see Jake Locker isn't the only QB that misses his hot.
 
Sack #7: Week 5, Mike Martin of Christian Ponder
Martin gets credit for the sack here, but he did the least of the defensive linemen as this is really a tackle for a gain of 0 on a scramble. The coverage is good. Morgan gets the initial pressure, as RT Phil Loadholt gets vertical to deal with his outside rush. Vertical linemen don't anchor well. Ponder vacates. Klug was mostly contained, but gets the edge when Ponder tries to vacate. Wimbley was coming around the edge, but Klug's blocker seals him out of the play. Ponder is trying to run downfield, and Martin hauls him down after McCarthy cannot.
 
Sack #8: Week 6, Derrick Morgan of Ben Roethlisberger
It looks like Alterraun Verner makes this sack. Roethlisberger seems to be expecting the Titans to be in Cover-3 and Verner to bail at the snap, giving him a quick pass to the wideout. He's half-right. The Titans appear to be in Cover-3, but shift late so Verner has short covert and Griffin that deep outside third. No open receiver, and both offensive tackles whiff on their cut blocks against the outside rushing defensive ends. BenR sees Wimbley, since he's looking to his left, but not Morgan.
 
Sack #9: Week 7, Kamerion Wimbley of Ryan Fitzpatrick
The first, second, and third questions to ask when facing Kamerion Wimbley is whether your left tackle can handle the shoulder dip move. Chris Hairston cannot, and Fitz is a sitting duck.
 
Sack #10: Week 8, Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley of Andrew Luck
It's a T-E stunt to the defensive left and none of the offensive linemen pick up Morgan on the loop stunt. The back has no chance. Fortunately for Luck, Karl Klug's bull rushes the left guard into Morgan's path, while Wimbley is able to slide in off his outside rush and join the party. If the NFL believed in such things, this sack gets split three ways among Klug, Morgan, and Wimbley, though Morgan is the one that knocks the ball out.
 
Sack #11: Week 8, Akeem Ayers of Andrew Luck
Ayers is playing a wide RDE in this 4-2-5 nickel look. LT Anthony Castonzo, maybe as part of an effort to sell the play fake, doesn't bother with a kick-step to contain Ayers' outside rush at first. Bad mistake, as by the time he does move to block Ayers he has no chance of actually doing so and Luck is a sitting duck.
 
Sack #12: Week 9, Akeem Ayers of Jay Cutler
This is another tackle for a gain of 0 on a scramble. The play is a bootleg, and the defense stays at home. When the tight end runs his route, Morgan gets pressure on Cutler. Rather than throwing the ball away like a sensible person, he goes all Jay Cutler and decides to try to get 2 yards on 1st-and-10 by taking an unnecessary hit.
 
Sack #13: Week 9, Jurrell Casey of Jay Cutler
Another installment in the continuing misadventures of Jay Cutler. He seems to decide the Titans have sniffed out the screen after Forte goes in motion. He might be right about this, but nobody tells the left guard or left tackle to block RDT Casey. This is about as easy a sack as a defensive lineman will ever get, and it's a fumble the Titans recover to boot. If they weren't already down 31-2, this could have been a big play.
 
Sack #14: Week 9, Kamerion Wimbley of Jay Cutler
The Chargers and Steelers would be proud of how the Bears got outside to block the defensive ends this play. Granted, Wimbley is going against TE Kellen Davis, but RT Gabe Carimi handles Morgan no better. Cutler steps away from Morgan's outside pressure only to have to duck as Wimbley comes flying at him.
 
Next installment tomorrow, beginning with Sen'Derrick Marks taking down Ryan Tannehill.
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