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Negative Passing Plays: Titans vs. Colts (Week 11)

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Welcome to the Negative Passing Plays: Titans vs. Colts (Week 11) article as we look at the terrible plays from the QBs during this lopsided loss to the Colts.

Negative Passing Plays:


The first negative pass from Mariota, and it’s a substantial mistake from the QB.  First of all, the defensive tackle is lined up in the neutral zone, and then jumps off-sides to boot, but the penalty doesn’t get called.  He essentially destroys any chance of a run here, but it was play action nonetheless.   This is actually a great block from Dion Lewis to take out the tackle, because the pass is designed to go to Stocker.  I’m assuming Lewis was the dump off option if Stocker wasn’t open, but he has to go all out to block the rusher, and take himself out of the play.  The play action works perfectly, as the linebacker bites on Stocker as a blocker, and allows him to run right by him.  If Mariota leads Stocker on this play, this is a possible touchdown, but he vastly under-throws this pass, allowing the linebacker to get back in the play.  There is no excuse here, this is just a flat out terrible pass that can not be thrown in this situation.  The play action and route works perfectly, but Mariota makes an off balance throw, when he could have stepped into it with a clean pocket.  This play is also an example as to why the Colts have a mediocre defense, because the linebacker doesn’t take advantage of the 5 yard rule.  A good defender engages Stocker and pushes him off the route here, but in this case the Colts’ defender doesn’t do so, which allows the tight end to run down the field.


This is a sack on third down, and the offensive line doesn’t do any favors for Mariota on this play.  However, this should have been a first down, because the options are there, but Mariota played it safe.  The first read is Sharpe on the dig route, and he’s open as he’s crossing behind the linebacker in zone coverage.  This is pretty much what you can expect against zone, so I’m not sure why Mariota didn’t pull the trigger.  The passing lane is there for the taking, but Mariota moves onto his second read.  The second read is a curl to Davis, with a bail out to Cameron Batson, and all depends on the cornerback defending Davis.  If the defender goes with Davis, then throw into the flat to Batson, but that play doesn’t materialize because Mariota is sacked by then.  The offensive line definitely deserves some blame, but Mariota needs to make this pass to Sharpe.  It’s a zone beater route with a passing lane, but he decides against it and ends up getting sacked.


This one is in the negatives because this is an issue I have with Mariota over the long term.  He doesn’t take the time to step into throws at times, which cause them to erratic.  The play here breaks down, as it was a quick pass call, as evidenced by the receivers scrambling after Mariota escapes the pocket.  Up until this part, Mariota is doing great in using his mobility to his advantage.  However, he has the time to turn his hips on this play and throw down the field.  Sharpe is open a full two steps before Mariota makes this sideways hopping throw, which lands short.  For simple mechanics, you need your hips the generate torque on a throw (essentially why a pitcher faces sideways in his windup) but Mariota does a hop throw here without the leverage from his lead foot.  I’m willing to even bypass the fact that Batson is wide open down the sideline for a possible touchdown throw, because it’s a broken play and he’s improvising.  However, Mariota needs to keep his mechanics clean on the run when he does have space.  If the defenders were closer, you can say he didn’t have a choice, but he refused to make this pass until it was too late.  The same window he eventually throws into opens up as soon as he hits the 13 yard line, while the defender was at the 20 yard line.  However, Mariota waited until the defender reached the 16 yard line before making this throw, and that’s just poor anticipation.


To be frank, I have no idea why Mariota made this throw.  The entire route concept to the left side of the formation is built on one of two principles.  If the defender drops back with Jonnu Smith, you hit Henry on the quick out.  If the defender stays in zone and bites on Henry, then you throw to Smith before the safety can make a play.  It’s pretty elementary in terms of QB progressions, yet Mariota makes a boneheaded throw.  The defender does exactly what you don’t want him to do for this throw.  He trails Smith to undercut throws, with safety help over the top.  There is no window, and certainly no window for an under-throw.  It’s baffling as to why Mariota makes this throw when he also has a clean pocket and his reads on the other side of the field are getting open.  I wish I could see some angle where it makes sense, but I can’t, as this is just a terrible decision.

Warning: The rest of this article has Blaine Gabbert at QB, so proceed with caution, albeit the results are what you expect. 


Uhh…..what? Either Darius Leonard borrowed the invisibility cloak from Harry or this is just one of the worst throws of the season, for any QB.  I don’t even understand how Gabbert didn’t see Leonard, and essentially throws the ball right at him.   Only other thing to notice is that Lewan completely whiffs on the cut block, which is why Gabbert speeds up the passing process, but still, this is just a ridiculous throw.


This is a miscommunication with the receiver and QB, but I’ve seen it a few times with Corey Davis this year, although he makes the right read here.  He slows down, because the Colts are in zone coverage and he’s slowing down in the passing window.  However, Gabbert throws this pass as if he’s expecting man coverage and trying to lead Davis, and it ends up incomplete.  This isn’t a terrible throw, but it’s miscommunication that needs to be fixed.


The negatives in the passing game were plenty this week, and this could have been longer if more Blaine Gabbert passes were examined.

  • Mariota and Gabbert made two head scratching throws on interceptions
  • The mistakes coupled with Luck ended this game very early
  • Mariota seemed extremely conservative against the Colts

Overall, this is a game to forget for the Titans, as they move onto next week.  This was just a terrible performance by the entire team, and it showed on the scoreboard.

Thanks for reading Negative Passing Plays: Titans vs. Colts (Week 11), and please follow on Twitter.

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