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

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Welcome to the Positive Passing Plays: Titans vs. Colts (Week 11) article, as we look at some of the positive play from the QBs in this lopsided loss.  This is a fairly short article, because the offense was downright abysmal.

Positive Passing Plays:


The first positive pass of the game, and much like the rest of the game, can be considered conservative.   The Colts are essentially biting hard on the play action, which leaves Tajae Sharpe wide open in the middle for a pass with plenty of space for yards after the catch.  However, Mariota bypasses the open option for a check down to Jonnu Smith, which goes for 9 yards.  The play design here works great, but Mariota is conservative.  This play is borderline on the negative aspect because Mariota misses the wide open receiver, but since the play has a positive result, I’ll keep it here.


In most instances, this is a play that I would skip breaking down because it doesn’t have any special reads or throws.  On the other hand, I love how this play is designed from LaFleur because it has so many different options for Mariota.  First thing to notice is the Colts are in two deep safety look, while rushing 4, which means it’s 5 defenders on 5 receivers underneath.  On a 3rd and 6, the Titans are only concerned about the intermediate area, so from the start this is one on one match up territory.  The Titans are stacked with Sharpe/Davis in the slot, but notice the defenders.  One defender is lined up over Sharpe, while the linebacker is positioned well inside.  If the defender on Sharpe stays with the receiver, then the linebacker is too far away from Davis to make a play on the ball.  If the defender switches to Davis, then the receiver still has inside leverage for the slant pass.  In this case, the defender falls back before switching to Davis, which allows for the passing option.  Now, let’s make this a bit more complicated.  Assume the safety to that side comes down, taking away the match up advantage.  Now, we look to the left side of the formation, where they have two receivers against two defenders.  Jonnu Smith runs an out route, while the outside receiver runs a dig route, and the read is just the outside cornerback.  If the cornerback stays with the outside receiver, then Smith is wide open for the pass (as was the case here).  If the cornerback switches, then the outside receiver is running inside, while the inside linebacker has his hips turned the wrong way, allowing a good chance for separation.  It’s a simple play, but the only way in which this call wouldn’t have worked is if the Colts move to cover 0, at which point there may have been an audible in place.  You’ll hear about schemes making it easy for players often, but this is one example where the scheme destroys the defense, allowing Mariota to make an easy read.


A nice pass from Mariota to Davis, attacking them down the field.  The read here is fairly simple, but extremely well laid out by the coaching staff.  The read is the middle linebacker, and he determines where this pass is made.  The linebacker stays with the slot receiver, so the slot receiver is blanketed, and therefore taken out as a choice.  The second choice is Corey Davis running the dig route undercutting the slot receiver.  Since the middle linebacker followed the slot receiver, Davis has inside leverage on this route, which makes it an easy pass.  If for some reason, the second safety comes back up field to block Davis, the read would have been Stocker on the crossing route or the outside receiver on the curl route.  However, Mariota makes the great read and recognizes that Davis will be open on this pass, and makes a fabulous throw.


Mariota does a great job of stepping up in the pocket and making a shovel pass to Lewis.

The end zone angle for this pass does more justice to this play.  Mariota steps up in the pocket, and throws the pass, but it’s really here because Dion Lewis with a great one handed catch, and then makes the first defender miss to turn up field.  I can’t remember too many receiving RBs that have this innate ability to create missed tackles in traffic as Lewis.  Guys can make moves in the open field, but Lewis is just so great at maneuvering in traffic, and it’s a joy to watch.

Warning: The rest of this article has Blaine Gabbert at QB.  Proceed with caution. 


A good play action pass from Gabbert, albeit the throw is slightly behind Sharpe, which forces the receiver to turn around, and lose momentum up the field.  Nonetheless, this is still a good pass as the Colts bite on the play action, and the offense catches them on a safety blitz from the left side of the formation.


This is a good throw, but an amazing catch by Sharpe for the lone touchdown in the game.  At this point, the game is all but over, but still an amazing catch.


The positive aspects of this game are limited in the passing game:

  • Dion Lewis and Tajae Sharpe made a couple of great catches
  • The offensive scheme was good, but not executed as well as it should have been
  • The QBs were fairly conservative, and once Mariota was injured, the game was never in doubt

The team can’t sustain a good offense with Gabbert, and Mariota definitely looked conservative in this game.  Hopefully, the injury isn’t serious and they play much more aggressive in the next game.

Thank you for reading Positive Passing Plays: Titans vs. Colts (Week 11), and please follow on Twitter.

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