Let’s take a belated look at the Titans in their pre-season Week 3 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game is usually the dress rehearsal for the season, so let’s see how they did.
This is a simple play action pass from Mariota, although it’s a fairly good pass from Mariota showing good timing. The Steelers are in a single high safety look, and runs the play action. As you can see, the defense completely bit on the play action, which allows Mariota enough time to find Sharpe for the first down. The downside of this play is that Josh Kline gets destroyed, but Henry slows down the defender long enough for Mariota to get the pass out of his hand. Sharpe runs a good route, especially since the timing is excellent between the receiver and quarterback.
I believe in Mariota’s potential, and I think he’s vastly underrated on the national stage. I believe in the offensive system that is being installed. However, this is an absolutely terrible throw from Mariota, as this should have been a touchdown. Davis is wide open for this pass, and if he’s hit in stride, he can walk to the end zone. Unfortunately, Mariota severely under-throws this pass and they are forced to punt. There are no excuses for this type of pass, it’s just a terrible throw. On the other hand, the offensive set up here is great. The offense catches the Steelers unprepared for the stacked receiver group to the right side of the formation. They have a corner blitz on from that side, which left the receivers to have free releases, and the safety out of position to guard Davis. It’s very much a missed opportunity.
Great play design, great read, but horrible throw. The design on this play is excellent and it’s heavily dependent on what looks like the strong safety. When the ball is snapped, the initial read is Jonnu Smith and the reaction of the strong safety calls for the decision from Mariota. If the strong safety stays back, then it’s a quick pass to the young tight end. If the strong safety drives towards the tight end, then Davis has an open zone behind the safety to settle into. However, Mariota leaves the pass high and Davis just doesn’t have a chance to catch it. On a side note, Taylor Lewan whiffs on a spin move by the defender as well, which may have prompted Mariota to speed up the process.
A horrible throw from Mariota and it is intercepted by the defense. I can’t tell the read progression here because it’s out of frame, but this is just a terrible decision from Mariota as Taylor was well covered when he made the throw.
As you saw with Mariota 1, Kline did not have a good start in this game. He lets the defender run right up the field, and it ends up in a sack. It looks like a miscommunication at the line, because he starts blocking to his left, assuming slide protection. However, the scheme seems to call for man blocks (it seems) and Kline realizes it too late. While the stat sheets will show a sack on Mariota, this one falls on Kline.
I debated on the idea of putting this under Mariota, but Sharpe has a bigger impact on this play. The first thing to notice here is really the release, where the cornerback tries to jam the receiver, and completely whiffs on it. This allows for a free release to the receiver, Mariota goes through the progressions and hits the receiver for the crossing route. The second aspect to notice is the play set up, because there is balance towards it. The offense has three receivers to the right side of the field, and the Steelers have three defenders plus a safety in the area. The defender to notice here is the middle linebacker, because that’s the most important read. If the defender stays close to the line of scrimmage, the slot receiver is going to have an easy in route for the first down. If the defender falls back to protect the inside route against the slot receiver, then the crossing route is opening up. Furthermore, if the defenders follow Sharpe across the field, then Dion Lewis comes out of the backfield since that area would now be free. On the outset, this looks like a simple route, but it’s very well crafted, and Mariota goes through the progressions exceptionally well.
Derrick Henry with a very strong stiff-arm to Joe Haden, and almost breaks free to the outside. The only reason this doesn’t go for a first down is a shoestring tackle by Haden as Henry is running away. The young running back is very well adept at using the stiff arm in one on one situations and it can wreak havoc on attempted tackles. While this is not Mariota level against the Jags, this is a great stiff-arm.
A guy with a powerful stiff arm and physical running style should not be able to move like this in the backfield. This is just a great show of agility from Henry as he sees the hole to the left side of the formation. The cut-up field is the biggest hope for fans here, because that’s a perfect fit for zone blocking schemes. The scheme calls for running backs to find holes in the zone and to hit the area as soon as possible.
A great catch by Firsker here, as he shows an exceptional ability to high point the ball here. He runs a seam route out of an in-line tight end position, but his ability to high point the ball here is very good. Notice the safety behind him going towards the ball because he thinks it’s too high for the tight end.
Another catch in similar vein from Firsker, as he goes from in-line tight end to a seam route, although this pass is pretty much right on point. He scored a touchdown in this game, so he definitely impressed in this game.
A great run from David Fluellen, as he makes a great cut up the field to get the first down. He’s been somewhat of a revelation, because he reminds me of Derrick Henry in a sense that he can be very physical with his running style, but also be elusive to the outside.
Thank you for reading this week’s film breakdown on the pre-season Game 3, and please make sure to follow us on Twitter.
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