Welcome to another edition of film breakdown at Anatomy of Titans, and in this article we examine the negative passing plays for the Tennessee Titans in their victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. While the team won the game, it wasn’t without some faults. Once again, these were written months ago, but I couldn’t launch the site, so it may seem a bit dated.
Tennessee Titans Film Review:
If you read the previous articles, we like Rishard Matthews, because he’s an under-rated receiver in the NFL. If you are a Matthews fan, this play isn’t for you, because it’s a horrible drop from the receiver. The receiver goes in motion and the defender doesn’t follow him, but rather hands him off, thus indicating zone cover. That late motion means the defense has to switch responsibilities, which means the linebacker on the other end now goes into coverage instead of rushing the passer. That responsibility has now switched to the linebacker on this end (the one who handed off the motion receiver) which makes him a late entrant in rushing the passer. Once the defender rushes towards the line of scrimmage, the Titans have the Bengals right where they want them. Once that defender moves, there are three receivers being defended by two cornerbacks, thus it’s just a numbers mismatch. If the cornerbacks go back with the receivers, then the quick pass to the Adoree’ Jackson, staying back is wide open. Therefore, Mariota just has to pick the best option, and he makes a great decision on the throw. It’s a perfect throw from Mariota to Matthews, but it’s just flat out dropped. A possible TD is taken off the board with this horrible drop.
On this play, Mariota takes a conservative approach on third down, and doesn’t get the conversion. Admittedly, converting on this play is slim because they need 19 yards for the first down. However, Eric Decker is wide open on this play running down the middle. If Mariota hits Decker in stride, he has a much better chance of gaining yards than Murray at the back end. Mariota needs to see Decker running free across the field and take the shot instead of dumping the pass off to Murray. On the next play, they missed a 48-yard field goal.
Mariota got baited into this interception because he did not read the right coverage. The Bengals line up in a defense that doesn’t indicate zone or man, and Mariota seems to read man coverage on this play. His read is the slot defender, Darqueze Dennard, and his actions dictate the throw. It’s the only read for the QB on this play, but he reads it wrong. Mariota looks to see if Dennard engages the slot receiver, which is Decker, and bases his decision from Dennard’s action. However, the Bengals are in zone coverage in a two-minute drill, which makes them more than willing to give up small pass plays in the middle. When Decker stops his route for the quick pass, Dennard makes contact, but drops backwards immediately because he knows the Titans want to gain chunk yards. Mariota falls right into this trap by reading Dennard as engaged on Decker, and throwing behind him to a theoretically open Davis. Unfortunately, Dennard makes the interception and runs it back to the three-yard line. Although, kudos to Mariota for the tackle at the end. With a four-man rush, this is a situation where Mariota has to wait until secondary reads develop because he does have a clean pocket. It’s a horrible interception, deep inside their own territory.
There are situations where you see one on one matchups, and should take advantage of them if you believe in your receivers. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those situations. The Bengals run zone cover across the formation, except for Corey Davis to the right of the formation. Mariota appears to have read man coverage, because he goes for the one on one match up away the safeties. A staple in many wide open spread offenses in college is to attack vertically to the sides abandoned by safeties because the chances are on your side that your player makes a play on the ball or draws a penalty. On this play, Mariota doesn’t recognize the zone cover for the rest of the field because Delanie Walker is going to cut across into a wide-open area if the QB waits a split second longer. You can see Walker’s frustration with the decision at the end as well. This is just a bad read from the QB, who got fooled by the defense.
This play starts out great for the Titans, and then goes horribly wrong. A third and short situation where a team needs a first down, so what do they run? A pick-play of course. Walker and Davis cross each other in the middle of the field, with the intention of crossing up the defenders. It works perfectly as Davis finds himself wide open, and Mariota finds him cutting across. Davis then does a good job running down the field, and going for the touchdown. Unfortunately, as he’s stretching for the end zone, he fumbles the ball and it goes out of bounds. The NFL likes to have some nonsensical rules to create discussion, so they ruled this fumble out of bounds as a touchback, and gave the ball to the Bengals. It’s just a bad play by Davis, who needs to take better care of the football. Another thing to notice on this play, notice DeMarco Murray blocking down the field. He’s ahead of his blocker, so how does he block? He runs down the field, and pretends to call for the ball, which keeps his defender engaged on him, instead of turning around and chasing down Davis. It’s an ingenious way to block without risking holding penalty.
While the Tennessee Titans did pull off the victory, you can see that they did have some negative plays during the game. As usual, please like, share, and subscribe to the site.
Links to Week 10 Articles:
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