Welcome to Positive Rushing Plays: Titans vs. Texans (Week 2) article, as we break down film to see the positive rushing plays in the Titans victory over the Texans.
Positive Rushing Plays:
This play is about one shoe string tackle and a good block from Corey Davis away from being a touchdown. The play set up here is phenomenal because it’s a misdirection run. The entire set up is to get Derrick Henry matched up on Kareem Jackson. The team sells the run to the left side of the formation with Stocker acting as the fullback on this play. As Stocker rounds out his route, the right side of the line creates a wall for Derrick Henry, and the young TE takes out the linebacker. Henry is matched up one on one with Kareem Jackson, who makes the tackle on Henry by his shoe strings. The only thing that goes wrong on this play is really Corey Davis, because he tries to sell the run to the left side by not committing to a block. Notice how he approaches the safety waiting for a reaction. On this play, he has to engage the safety directly on a block, rather than letting the safety get a head start. It doesn’t matter on the play because Henry was tackled, but he turned a possible 1 on 1 situation into a 2 on 1 with poor blocking, and that has to be fixed. Henry does a great job of following his blocks and hitting the outside pocket, although the play calling is the real star on this play.
There isn’t much to break down here because this is a wildcat snap to Derrick Henry, and he rushes up the middle for 6 yards. I just wanted to highlight the surprise for the Texans because they are playing 2 deep safety with zone cover on this, which isn’t warranted against a wildcat snap. It’s more of a testament to the coaching staff that the defense was just ill-prepared for this look.
I’m going to highlight a couple of things on this play, and how the coaching staff helped Kevin Pamphile. In most instances, Taylor Lewan would take care of the linebacker to the outside on this play, with Stocker and Jonnu Smith blocking into the second level. However, they had Pamphile double team the defender with Quinton Spain, and then sprung Josh Kline over to block the linebacker. So ideally, Kline would move up field and block Benardrick McKinney (55) while Stocker would still have the same responsibility to take out Zach Cunningham. If the blocking scheme was executed, then Henry would have a one on one match up with the outside cornerback again. However, they needed to get creative to protect the offensive line, which is why there is a pass option to the cutting receiver at the start, which serves to freeze the linebackers. Then Josh Kline slides over to take on the linebacker to help Henry get through the line, and then the running back bulldozes his way for yards. It’s a case where the coaching staff knew it was too risky to go for the perfect play call, rather going for a safe one given the circumstances.
On this play, Dion Lewis makes a great cut towards the middle and gains about 5 yards. He’s one of the best players in the NFL at making people miss in tight situations. There are plenty of guys that can make defenders look silly in space, but guys that can move around nimbly in tight spaces are rare. Jonnu Smith cuts across the line to seal off the backside for the cutoff and allows Lewis to jump back towards the middle. The downside on this play is the blocking from Corey Davis, who once again shows a hesitation to engage the blocker. Notice how he runs to the blocker and waits for a reaction, and then it’s too late to prevent the defender from having a straight line to the running back. He needs to learn to engage the defenders, and dictate their path, rather than reacting to their paths, which often occurs slowly.
Remember how I said Dion Lewis makes people miss in very tight spaces? Well Benardrick McKinney found out on this play. There is barely a yard of space for Lewis to work with on this play, and the juke move on the linebacker is absolutely ridiculous. As the season goes on, fans will start to see how Lewis is much more dangerous running up the middle, which is counter-intuitive to what his size would suggest.
This rush is the last play of the first half, but Lewis comes so close to breaking it down the field. He’s one balanced step away from making this a race down the field. He displays an innate ability to make defenders miss, and almost breaks it open.
If Lewis is better suited for inside runs because of his elusiveness, why is Henry better suited for outside runs? Exhibit A. Henry can absolutely dominate smaller defenders on the perimeter, yet retains enough speed to turn the corner. Look at Johnathan Joseph on this play absolutely get destroyed by a stiff arm near the sidelines. Henry actually does have an option to run up the middle here for yards, but decides to push it outside because he’s much more in his element in space, where his physicality cam help him gain yards after contact.
Dion Lewis with a great run here, as the offensive line does a wonderful job of opening a running lane. Lewis sees the hole and accelerates down the field for a first down. The secondary hero here is from Quinton Spain, as he clears the patch for Lewis with a timely block.
The Titans won this week with a conservative game plan, along with both Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry having their moments. It’s not the type of game that will make season ending highlight videos, but there were definitely some good runs in there. Lewis is once again showing an excellent ability to make people miss, and we all know Henry has a great stiff arm.
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