Thanks for checking out the film breakdown of the offense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (enter link), so let’s turn our attention towards the defensive side of the ball.
The biggest star of this play is play calling philosophy, although Logan Ryan did an admirable job. The QB in for the Buccaneers is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is good with short routes but struggles to push the ball down field. The offense comes out with 4 wide-look, and the defense comes out in single high safety with Kenny Vaccaro. What’s impressive about it is the philosophy because the Titans essentially dared Fitzpatrick to beat them deep. Logan Ryan is squared up with Mike Evans, a match-up even the most optimistic Titans’ fans dread. Ryan turns his hips to the outside, since he has safety help over the top, and runs with Evans down the field. Fitzpatrick, predictably fails at the deep pass, and sends it out of bounds. The other thing to notice is Kevin Byard covering a slot receiver on the play, albeit he does give up a sizeable cushion. However, it’s very much encouraging to see Byard and Vaccaro flip coverage duties, even though Byard is the free safety. The ability to mix and match allows the defense to hide their intentions at a better rate, and Vaccaro is a great fit for that purpose.
In example 1 for philosophy, I talked about how Byard and Vaccaro mixing and matching at the safety position provides a great advantage for the defense. At the start of the play, you can see Vaccaro and Byard both standing near each other. However, as the play gets close to starting, Byard drops back and Vaccaro moves forward to act as the strong safety now. The late movement is important because it’s too late for the Buccaneers to audible out of the run away from Vaccaro, because they must operate under the impression that the newly signed safety could play as the strong safety or the free safety. The run stays on for the offense, and Vaccaro runs through the line to essentially redirect the running back into the defensive line. Vaccaro doesn’t get credit for the tackle, but he makes this play. Coaches usually get blamed for mistakes, but mixing and matching the safeties adds a different element to this defense, at least in this case.
I’m putting this under Byard’s name, even though Logan Ryan swatted the ball away in this case. The target is DeSean Jackson on this play, who is one of the best deep ball threats in the league. Fortunately, Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t good with the deep ball and underthrows the pass. Ryan gets beat on the deep route, but the underthrown ball allows him to get back on the play. Byard is playing deep safety here and disrupts the route for Jackson. He doesn’t make a play on the ball, but I do think he plays a good deep safety here. He does a good job of getting in position, but he doesn’t turn his head around to make a play on the ball.
Jayon Brown hasn’t been great in coverage, but he does a great job of rushing the passer here. He is coming on a blitz, and gets around the offensive lineman with ease. Notice the quick change of directions as Brown rushes the passer. You can make an argument that he’s being held on this play, and that may have prevented a sack. Nonetheless, Brown gets a hand on the ball and the tipped pass is almost intercepted. Transitioning from Avery Williamson to Brown is one of the biggest defensive changes from last year, so it’s encouraging to see Brown make a great pass rushing move.
Jayon Brown does a great job of disguising this blitz, and ends up sacking Winston for a major loss of yardage. What sells this play is the late movement from Brown, which hides his intention from the Buccaneers, and catches them by surprise. It’s a well-timed blitz from the defense.
Remember the match-ups with Sims and Evans, and how it was a mismatch? Well this is exactly why. Sims is matched up one on one with Evans, and once again he has his hips turned to the outside since he has safety help over the top. However, Evans overpowers him and runs right by the defender which blows up the play. This isn’t a great pass by Winston, but Sims is so thoroughly beat on the play that Evans has enough time to make an adjustment and catch the ball. Vaccaro gets called for the lowering head penalty to add injury to insult.
On this play, Sims is left on an island, and gets thoroughly burned. Sims seems to think that there might be safety help over the top, but he doesn’t receive any. Demontre Hurst is lined up as a safety right behind Sims, but he bites hard on the play action, which leaves Sims on an island. DeSean Jackson gets around Sims easily, and beats him down the field. Winston makes a great throw, and Sims does a good job to even catch up and tackle the receiver. It’s hard to defend DeSean Jackson without a safety over the top, so it’s a bit of a stretch to blame Sims completely here. The likelihood of events here seems to favor Hurst being overly aggressive and it meant he couldn’t provide safety cover over the top.
While Wallace doesn’t get credit for the tackle here, he’s the one that makes the play. He blows through the line and tries to tackle the running back. Eventually, the running back evades the tackle, but Wallace slows him down enough to allow others to swarm and bring down the runner behind the line of scrimmage.
While breaking down film, Harold Landry was eerily missing since he was mostly contained. The Buccaneers did a good job of blocking the young rookie for the Titans. However, on this play he makes a great rush up the field, and uses his speed to run right past the tackle. The offensive lineman has to resort to holding on the play, which gets called, and a long touchdown is negated. This play shows off the explosiveness of Landry, although it is a bit concerning that he wasn’t in the backfield quite as much earlier in the game. Furthermore, notice Aaron Wallace make a good pass rush move on the outside and attack the QB from the other side as well.
A lucky touchdown for the Buccaneers, although you have to appreciate the effort from Winston here. Sharif Finch makes a great attempt at a sack, as he fights through the tackle and almost sacks the quarterback. Winston avoids the sack, then throws up a prayer that was answered. Finch uses an arm bar to disengage from the tackle, but Winston’s foot slides through his hands.
Another good play from Finch, albeit he doesn’t get credit here. The linebacker does a good job to disengage from the tackle, and chase Winston from the pocket and forcing the incomplete pass.
This is a terrible play from Durden, and it leads to a touchdown. On this play, he’s playing outside corner on a 3rd and 15 play with about 15 seconds left in the half. He has to make sure the receiver stays in front of him before the first down marker. However, Durden assumes a short route and lets the receiver get behind him. This shows a lack of situational awareness, because there isn’t much downside to a short completion here from the Titans’ standpoint. If there is a short completion, the Buccaneers then call the final timeout and most likely attempt a field goal. This is one situation, where you absolutely cannot let your receiver get behind you, and Durden makes the mistake.
Thanks for checking in with us for the defensive side breakdown, and check back with us for future updates. Please follow us on Twitter as well.
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