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Lelei Mariota – Postive Passing Film – Titans vs. Colts (Week 6) Part 2

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Thanks for checking in for Part 2 of Lelei Mariota – Positive Passing Film breakdown of the Tennessee Titans against the Indianapolis Colts.  Please check out Part 1 of the article, if you did not get a chance.  

Lelei Mariota:


This is a great example of arm strength and anticipation by Mariota.  Eric Decker has been known as a very consistent route runner, and consistency helps your QB in tough situations.  He may not be a burner anymore, but he will run great routes and it comes in handy here.  Notice that Mariota throws this ball even before Decker makes his break, and it’s perfectly placed for Decker.  That kind of connection is extremely important in tough situations because the QB needs to trust the receiver to be in the exact place as practiced.  Decker runs a great route and makes a nice catch.  The Colts are absolutely baiting the offense into this exact throw because the safety is sitting in the middle to jump this route.  The defense is sending a blitz, anticipating the QB to throw the ball early, and then jumping the route.  Mariota shows very good arm strength to get the ball past the safety on this throw, and his anticipation throws off the defender.  If Mariota waits for Decker to start his break, then the safety will jump this pass.  The defense is also called for a roughing the passer penalty on this play.  


A shout out to Taylor Lewan on this play because he’s the key to this successful outcome.  The Titans run play action to the right of the formation, with a wide receiver screen to the left.  The key to this play is Lewan beating the defender on Matthews to the spot, because that clears up ample space for yards after the catch.  The defender sees Lewan, and tries to go around him, which allows for Matthews to run down the field.  The Titans have a great set up on this play, because if the defender tries to run in front of Lewan, then Mathews can run behind the left tackle and still find yards.  However, the left tackle taking on the defender in open space allows a free lane for the receiver to gain yards.  


An absolute clinic put on by Eric Decker and Marcus Mariota on this play.  As mentioned before, Decker is one of the best route runners in the league, which helps the QB trust him with risky passes.  Notice the defender is lined up with outside leverage on Decker, and then look at how Decker attacks him.  Outside leverage in this situation again indicates that he has safety help to the inside, and linebacker help underneath.  If Decker runs a straight route, the defender can easily attack this throw, which is technically just an outside throw.  Instead, Decker runs straight at the defender, which puts emphasis on the defender committing to a route.  When Decker runs outside, the defender has to turn his hips (as opposed to facing the QB and backpedaling towards the sideline), at which point Decker makes a double move and turns inside.  This double move wreaks havoc on the defender because he is forced to do a complete 180 degrees turn with his back to the receiver.  At this point, Decker makes a triple move back to the outside, thus leaving the defender in the dust and Mariota makes a great throw.  Also, notice the timing of the throw, because Mariota has started his throwing motion before Decker makes his third move, showing great chemistry between the two of them, as well as trust. 


There isn’t much to dissect here, this is just a good throw by Mariota, and a great catch by Matthews.  It helps that the defender falls down, but this ball is placed perfectly, and Matthews makes the acrobatic catch while keeping his feet inbounds. 


Another complex play from the Titans, that looks simple on the outside.   Notice the defender on Decker has outside leverage, which indicates that he has safety help to the inside, as well as linebacker help underneath.   Mariota recognizes the set up again, and audibles to a play action call, which is designed to draw the linebackers up the field, and it works like a charm.  Once again, Matthews is running a clear out route to keep the safety occupied and allowing space for Decker to operate, without a safety over the top.  Once the linebackers have been enticed to move up field, Mariota has one read on this play, and it’s the linebacker.  If the linebacker drops too far back and is relatively close to Decker, then the pass goes to the running back out of the backfield.  Notice the timing when the running back releases from the backfield, it coincides with Decker running near the linebacker, as the offense intends to pull the defender up again.  With the safety cleared out, and the linebacker moving closer to the line of scrimmage, therefore this is an easy throw for Mariota.  However, the play is an extremely well-orchestrated symphony of moving parts to dictate the position of defenders on the field to the offense’s advantage. 


Marcus Mariota played a very good game against the Colts, and really turned it on in the second half to lead his team to victory.  It wasn’t without hiccups (as you will see in the other articles), but the team pulled out the win.  I will be writing film breakdowns for the Titans, so please make sure to check back with us often. 

Questions for Comments:

  1. How do you rate Decker’s route running ability?

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