Welcome to the Pre-Season Week 2 breakdown for the Tennessee Titans, as they took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This article deals with the offensive side of the ball, and we’ll look at some of the important plays from the game.
I’ll be honest, I love the potential of Marcus Mariota. I’m almost always positive with him, but this is just a bad throw. Either the play call got mixed up, or Mariota made a horrible throw. You can make an argument that Mariota didn’t fully extend on this throw, to avoid hitting his arm on the defender, but this is a terrible pass nonetheless.
The only thing I didn’t like about this play is deciding if I should put it under Mariota subheading, or create one for Dion Lewis. The most important aspect for this play is really the quick progressions from Mariota, as he goes through three (possibly four) reads on time. The first read is Jonnu Smith, on a quick out route, but Mariota decided not to pull the trigger, and move on to the second choice. Nick Williams is the second read, but he’s well covered, so Mariota moves on. I’m not sure if Tajae Sharpe is a target here, but Mariota moves onto Dion Lewis, who makes a great move in the open field to gain the first down. I want to highlight the play design here more than anything. The first thing to note here is the spacing, and how it interacts with players on the field. Let’s start from the right side of the field to the left. On the outside, we have a receiver running a go route, acting as the clear out distraction. Second, we have Jonnu Smith in the slot, and makes his break as Mariota reaches the top of his drop back. It’s also important for the outside receiver to run the clear out, so the outside corner back doesn’t jump the route of Smith. The second read is Nick Williams, but note the timing of the break, because it’s a bit delayed from the break of Jonnu Smith. It allows time for Mariota to make the read on Smith’s route, without giving away Mariota’s next read. Williams makes his break as Mariota turns his head, however he’s well covered. At this point, I would assume Sharpe is the next read, but he’s well covered. The QB moves onto the last read, which is Lewis out of the backfield. You will often see running backs act as safety blankets in more spread situations, because safeties/linebackers tend to follow the QB’s eyes and head movement. On this play, the middle linebacker is tasked with containing Lewis, but notice how the defender slows down while he’s looking at Mariota. The first reads are towards the other side of the field, hindering the linebacker’s ability to stay with Dion Lewis. While this is a very good play from Mariota and Lewis, the play design is the star on this play.
This looks like a bad pass from Mariota, but I believe the fault may lay at the feet of Tajae Sharpe. Judging from the spacing, and throw, it looks like Sharpe was supposed to curl to the outside, rather than towards the inside. If you notice the spacing between him and Nick Williams, they almost run into each other, and that seems counterproductive. Mariota also makes the throw to the outside, assuming Sharpe would break to the outside. It’s also important to notice that Lewis would be open for an easy pass as well, in case the receivers were covered.
The result of this play is negligible, but I wanted to highlight Derrick Henry making the right read, and ALMOST breaking off a large run. The set up here is simple, and the line slides over in zone blocking scheme as we mentioned in the Matt LaFleur article. The center is the key here as you can see on the play, because he’s sliding over after snapping the ball, as the left guard goes to the second tier. The defender gets a slight advantage on Ben Jones, and makes the tackle. Henry is quick to the outside, and very decisive in his cut to the inside. This is absolutely great for zone blocking schemes to make reads on the run, and then cutting to the open area. He sees the defender go around the tight end to have outside contain, and Henry makes a dash to the inside hole, and almost gets through. It takes a great effort from the defender to disengage from Ben Jones and help make the tackle. While the end result isn’t great here, this is a wonderful sign moving forward, because it shows great recognition on the run from Henry.
Dion Lewis absolutely commits a felony on linebacker Lavonte David’s ankles on this play. This is exactly why the Titans signed Lewis because this is almost impossible to block as a linebacker. Notice how Lewis squares up David on this play, because it allows the running back to dictate hip movement with the last stutter step. Lewis takes a step to the outside, which causes David to turn his hips outside, and Lewis cuts inside at a high speed, and the play is officially destroyed in the linebacker’s film room on Monday. He fumbles the ball out of bounds at the end of the play, but it doesn’t dampen the mood after this display of barbaric ankle abuse.
This is obviously the play that you watched over and over on highlight films, so admit that you are familiar with it. This is the much ballyhooed RPO, and expect to see these types of plays a lot more. As mentioned in the Delanie Walker article, the NFL considers lineman ineligible receiver downfield if they move past 1 yard from the line of scrimmage. So, NFL RPO’s tend to be quick out passes if not runs, so this is right out of the prototype. Taywan Taylor runs away from defenders like Katie Quackenbush was parking in the backfield. The unheralded hero on this play is Nick Williams, as he takes out two defenders by himself with a block. You can argue that he started blocking before Taylor caught the pass, but it’s rarely called once the ball is in the air. This is just a great run from Taylor, and really showed off his speed.
I’m pointing out this play to highlight hip rotation, and how manipulating it can really help receivers. Taylor is lined up to the outside on this play, and notice how he attacks the outside shoulder of the defender. He’s running towards the sidelines, which forces the defender to turn his hips to the outside. Taylor does a great job of cutting inside, allowing him to break open to the inside. Notice how the defender has to slow his momentum, as he turns around, allowing space for Taylor to operate. This is a terrible throw from Gabbert, because there is a chance that Taylor could have gotten yards after the catch if it was delivered in stride. I’m highlighting this play, mainly because this is a great route by Taylor, and use of hip manipulation to his benefit.
Did I mention hip manipulation? Disclaimer: The defender De’Vante Harris (cornerback), an undrafted free agent released by the Saints last week, so he may not be familiar with the playbook since he’s very new to the team. However, Taylor runs a great route and once again manipulates the hips of the defender. The slight cut up-field on the crossing route, causes the defender to turn his hips up field, which allows Taylor to run away just a bit more after he continues with the crossing route. This is just a great route from Taylor once again.
Taywan Taylor making sure he’s the slot receiver to start the season, as he catches another touchdown. He destroys the defender and makes this an extremely easy pass. There isn’t much to breakdown here, this is just a great route by the receiver.
A great run by Devin Ross, which ends with a fumble. The quick pass from Blaine Gabbert is impressive since he changes his arm angle to complete it. Ross makes a good run and has a shot to go all the way, but gets tackled from the side and fumbles the ball. Ross in an undrafted free agent fighting for a roster spot, but you already knew that since you are reading roughly word 1500 of an article breaking down pre-season games.
As I mentioned in the article last week, I wasn’t a fan of the Falk pick. Since he’s a young QB pick, I’ll spend time breaking down film on him if the opportunity arises. Falk shows up here, with an absolutely horrible throw, as he under-throws this pass to Devin Ross. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, so it’s not surprising to see him struggle on deep routes. On this play, the defender gets called for pass interference, but this is just a terrible throw.
This is a very good throw by Luke Falk as he hits Deontay Burnett for ten yards on the crossing route. He does a good job of making an accurate throw on the run, and placing the ball exactly where his receiver could catch the ball. Falk is very accurate on short and intermediate routes, and it shows up here on tape as well.
Thank you for reading this week’s breakdown for the Titans’ offense, and please check back with us for the article on the defense soon as well. Furthermore, please follow us on Twitter as well.
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