Upon Further Review: GB@TEN Offense 1H

Last Thursday, the Titans defeated the Packers, 30-14, in their fourth and final preseason game for 2007. Since it’s still the preseason, UFR is only offense, and only for Vince Young’s series. Usually, for the fourth preseason game, this is about 10 plays, but this year it was the entire first half and two series into the second half, in part because VY sat out the first preseason game.

By this point, it’s been several days since the Titans made the cuts to get down to the 53-man roster, but alas the game wasn’t aired by the NFL Network until Sunday evening and other obligations have prevented me from starting this until now. The whole corpus of the first team offense’s work is now up, with additional content to come later.

T15 1 10 3-WR, Slot Strong Pass Inc Jones Slant
3-step drop for VY, and the slant to Jones, the sole man to the right side. I can’t quite figure out why the timing is off on this play, as VY seems to put the pass right where he needs to. I suspect what happened is it took Jones longer than it should have coming out of his break and he thus wasn’t quite ready for the pass. But, I’m not sure. (CA)
T15 2 10 2-TE Strong Run 1 Henry Counter
Short run up the middle. DT Ryan Pickett, “blocked” by Olson, and other Packer D stand up well on this play. One thing the Packers did that seemed effective was bring down a safety to the strong (left) side late, creating 8 in the box and meaning the other defenders didn’t have to bite as hard on the strong action and making the counter less effective.
T16 2 9 3-WR, Slot Strong Pass 3 Moulds Comeback(?)
A familar play for Moulds, catching a 3 yard pass after a deep drop by the QB. This one is forced by pressure, something Moulds’ QB was as familiar with in Houston as any observer of the Texans in their brief, largely unhappy history. The Packers brought a delayed blitz up the middle and VY got rid of this ball with a defender hanging on him. He did well to avoid the sack, and Moulds did well to come back and bail out his QB. Still, I can’t help but think that VY should have done something with the ball before the delayed blitz got to him. All-22 would be lovely here, both for observing the protection and also whether there were any viable passing targets before the blitz forced the issue. (PR) is a grade somewhat reluctantly awarded, but the best I can do under the circumstances.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 1Q 11:45. If you can’t pass and you can’t run, you won’t have long drives.
T19 1 10 I-Formation Run 2 White Right Tackle
The Packers again bring down a safety to make it 8 in the box. And said safety fills the hole right tackle where the Titans’ had drawn up the play to go. White does manage a cutback to right guard, as the play says, and manages a yard. Not a great way to start a drive.
T21 2 8 3-WR, Slot Strong Pass 19 White Screen
For a screen, this is a little bit of a subtle one. I think VY had a deep read downfield, and the screen to White was the second option. It’s a bit of a middle screen, and once one Packer defender is blocked there isn’t another within 15 yards. (CA)
T40 1 10 Weak I, 2-TE Strong Run 5 White Counter
Counter run to the strong side. The Packers have 8 in the box, but with a FB and 2 TE in the game, that’s not a surprise. White runs through an ankle dive in the backfield and bounces off S Culver once before being dragged down after a nice little gain on first down. I know I’ve given White a lot of guff and little praise (c’mon, nobody touched him the previous play until he was 15 yards downfield), but this was good power running.
T45 2 5 3-WR, Slot Strong Run 12 White Cutback
T45 2 5 Penalty -10 Scaife Holding
Same formation the Titans have been running a lot tonight, with a TE starting out RT weak and motioning to the strong side. White does his favorite move of running away from contact, cutting the right guard run back outside to the left. He finds some run after Scaife seals off the left end by holding. Oops. Of course, if White doesn’t take down Kampman(?), this is probably a 2 yard gain.
T35 2 15 2-TE Strong Pass 4 Young Waggle
Ah, I loves me some good waggle action. Scaife, playing the role often occupied by the FB from his H-back position, gets a block on Goodwell, who was in coverage preventing the throw to the TE, but releases it too soon, and VY’s run is cut short a few yards shorter than it otherwise would have. Bad, bad Bo. (SCR)
T39 3 11 3-WR, Slot Strong Pass 3 Jones Drag
VY hits Jones on the drag route a yard downfield, and Jones is tackled shortly thereafter by Atari Bigby. Why you throw 1 yard downfield on 3&11 has frequently puzzled me, as it has many other fans. (CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 1Q 3:55. Holding penalties are good at killing drives. So is an inability to throw the ball, say, 5 yards, down the field effectively.
T42 1 10 2-TE Strong Run 1 White Stretch
Stretch play strong left side, with a faked end around to Jones(?). Cole stands strong at the point of attack-it looks like White probably should have had more on this play.
T43 2 9 3-WR, Slot Strong Pass 3 Moulds Curl?
I don’t understand. You go into a bit of a spread out formation, take a 7 step drop, and the 3 visible WRs are each 5 yards downfield. Hint: when I saw it looks like a play Moulds is familiar with from the Texans playbook, that’s not a compliment. (CA) is the mandatory grade, but I absolutely hate that I can’t distinguish for CA between seeing a short completion like this one and passing up this sort of completion for a decent throw to a receiver 12 yards downfield.
T46 3 6 3-WR, Slot Weak Pass 5 Davis Out
Davis moves right to left across the formation and almost ends up in a stack with the other WR. Davis runs about a 5 yard out pattern. VY throws it too him, but it’s too far ahead. Davis has to make a diving catch and can’t turn upfield to get the first down. (IN), and a bad one on what should be an easy throw.
G49 4 1 3-WR, Slot Weak Run 21 White Stretch
A “heck, it’s the preseason” call by Fisher-I doubt he goes for this when games actually count. The run goes right tackle, where the TE is. It looks like it’s just a mass of people there, as all 11 Packer defenders were within striking distance of the line of scrimmage. A crack opens between Olson and Stewart after Bigby takes a poor angle to give White a running lane, and DB Walker appears to give him 5+ extra yards by trying to rip the ball away instead of just tackling the danged runner already.
G28 1 10 ? Run 1 White Right Tackle
Ah, I love missing the start of the play. Thanks, Titans broadcasters! Short run up the middle-ish.
G27 2 9 3-WR, Slot Weak Pass 20 Jones Skinny Post
This is a wider variant of the some formation they’ve been running most of the game, with both of the outside WRs outside the numbers. VY pump fakes right, then hits a sliding Jones 20 yards downfield on a skinny post. What the heck, I’m in a generous mood, and the pass was thrown ahead of the corner but not far enough ahead that the safety could challenge the throw, so (DO). I probably won’t always be this generous, but good 20 yard completions aren’t always easy to find.
G7 1 G Standard 2-TE Run 1 White Stretch
Stretch run right tackle. White cuts back up the middle. Rather than run behind the blocking and where the Packer D is flowing to, White cuts back to where the Packer defenders are. They thank him for not making them run so hard by tackling him so he doesn’t have to run very far. How thoughtful. DE Cole in particular did a good job on this play.
G6 2 G Shotgun 4-WR Close Pass 6-TD Jones Slant In
Jones lines up slot left and runs a quick 5 yard slant. VY holds this ball probably too long, moves a little bit in the pocket, then sets and hits Jones. The LB in coverage seemed to relax a second and when Jones moved to the Titans’ right to snag VY’s pass he was late following and Brandon had an easy YAC for TD. (CA), I guess, thanks to the positive result.
Drive Notes: TD, 7-7, 2Q 11:16. Two big plays: the 4th down conversion, and the pass downfield to Jones. VY giveth (the latter) and VY taketh away (the former, creating the 4th down). Drives that end in a TD are always better than those that don’t, but I didn’t see the type of consistently good plays that give me optimism for continued success in the season. See, e.g., Success Rate, as used by Football Outsiders. Eddie George in the booth is exasperating me with his praise for LenDale White. After this drive, White had 7 carries for 32 yards. Superficially, this is a fine almost 5 yard per carry average. This production is broken down into: 1 carry for 21 yards and 6 carries for 11 yards. Running for 2 yards consistently puts you in 3rd and long consistently. Being in 3rd and long consistently is not good for your offensive chances, unless you’re Peyton Manning and the 2006 Colts.
T46 1 10 I-Formation Pass Inc Jones Bootleg
This is the play-action bootleg + deep pass we’ve seen the Denver Broncos, in particular, use with so much success over the years (basically the same play as Jay Cutler’s great throw last year), except Jones appears to run pretty much a go route, rather than a deep drag or flag. The pass is beyond him-I’m not quite sure what to make of this play, to be honest. The timing, as it seems to have been between Jones and VY all night, is just slightly off-not hugely so, but enough to disrupt potential completions and far from the Peyton-Marvin apparent mind-reading (I swear, I’m a Titans fan, not a Colts fan; I just have tremendous respect for Peyton and his great chemistry with Harrison in particular). Idiot Titan PBP guy: “Vince Young was forced out of the pocket” by pressure. Uh, dipnut, it’s a !#%!#%@ bootleg. For the record, pressure on the play was applied by Larry Birdine, whom the Titans just added to the practice squad. (CA), I guess.
T46 2 10 Weak I Run 9 White Cutback
It’s a right weak right, and White looks to cutback left, but Birdine is there. He goes right guard instead and finds a crease and picks up good yardage. Nice burst through the hole on this play by LenDale, something he also showed on the 21 yard run earlier that was more apparent on replays than the initial showing.
G45 3 1 I-Form, Standard 2-TE Run 6 White Off Tackle
Good run off left tackle for the Titans, well-blocked, particularly w/r/t getting the Packer LBs from getting to the hole, and White makes a guy’s dive for his ankles miss at the hole. Nice 3rd down conversion.
G39 1 10 Weak I Pass 17 Moulds Deep Out
Nice play here. VY gets good protection, stands tall in the pocket, and throws a strike to Moulds 17 yards downfield. (DO)
G22 1 10 I-Formation Run 6 Brown Toss Right
Brown in the game at TB for a change of pace. He takes a toss from VY and runs right weak. The run is supposed to go RT, but there’s no room there so Brown bounces it outside and gets a nice gain on first down.
G16 2 4 Weak I Run 3 Brown Cutback
This is the same sort of run White had a few plays ago. There’s not really a cutback lane left, but Brown takes this run right guard. Alas, then we see Chris Brown’s limitations as a runner: he gets 3 yards downfield easily, but is too tall and can’t generate the extra power needed to get the first down yardage. Still, 3&1 is better than 3&4.
G13 3 1 2-TE Strong Run 8 Brown Iso
Moulds goes in motion and is almost an H-back over the 2 TEs right. The run appears designed to go up the middle, but the right side of the Packer D has simply been pushed off the line of scrimmage, so Brown smartly runs there. Great blocking = easy running, and that’s how you solve Chris Brown’s only 3&1 problems.
G8 1 G 2-TE Strong Pass Inc Jones Fade-ish
Similar formation to the last play, except Jones and Moulds are each a little farther out. It’s kind of a fade stop, with Jones facing VY and going up for it. This lets DB Will Blackmon (a player I’d hoped the Titans would pick) get a hand up and bat the ball away. Note this play is distinguished from the true fade, as I think of it. A true fade would take advantage of Jones’ outside positioning and be thrown with more of an arc than VY’s pass here was. (CA)
G8 2 G Weak I Run 0 White Cutback
White cuts back up the middle and finds no running room. Blah.
G8 3 G Shotgun 5-WR Pass 8-TD Young Scramble
The Titans come up with an I-formation look, but motion as VY moves up from under center to a pure spread look. VY apparently sees no attractive passing options (no, White standing along the sidelines at the 10 did not count), and takes off. White has a nice block, and VY stretches out with the ball and gets it into the end zone. (SCR) Mike McCarthy indicated during the post-game press conference he would have challenged this call of a TD during the regular season, and I think it’s one he wins. Ah, well, too bad, so sad, still counts as 6 points.
Drive Notes: TD, 14-7, 2Q 5:27. Throwing the ball downfield successfully is a good thing. So is running the ball well consistently.
T43 1 10 3-WR, Slot Strong Run 2 White Iso
Blah, short run up middle. I may be forced to rely on the Eddie George explanation that Fisher is testing White’s conditioning, because otherwise snore on this play. If I thought higher of this play, I might call it a “cutback” since it looked like it might be going left tackle before White heads left guard.
T45 2 8 Weak I Run 0 White Off Tackle
Blah, short run strong side. White slipped a little, and DL Ryan Pickett and Muir both did OK on this play in helping prevent the blocking from being better.
T45 3 8 3-WR, Slot Strong Pass Inc Moulds Post
This is more of a close-in variant of the Titans’ favorite formation tonight. VY throws downfield for Moulds on a post about 40 yards downfield. The pass is right on the money, but I’m only going to give it a (CA). First, it’s close enough that DB Walker was able to make a great play on the ball. Second, VY’s pass leads Moulds right into the safety; even if Walker doesn’t make the play, it’s quite possible the safety hit jars the ball loose anyway. Second, Moulds gets really pounded by the safety anyway. Maybe if Walker doesn’t make the play and Moulds hangs on despite Culver’s hit I’m more generous. I freely recognize and admit that’s arbitrary and capricious. Hey, my system, my rules.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 2Q 2:18. No success running + failed passing = short drive.
T27 1 10 Shotgun Strong Pass Fumble Young Sack
Let me start off by noting Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon are calling this game for the Packers network, and they’re wearing identical green polo shirts with white stripes. I don’t pretend to be a clothes maven at all, but those things are hideous. Anyway, the play: deep drop, VY looks around, looks around, looks around. Decent protection, but Birdine keeps working and eventually gets around Roos and hits VY, forcing a fumble that Harrell manages to scoop up and take 18 yards for a TD. (BR) because I believe VY should have done something with this ball before Birdine got there.
Drive Notes: Fumble returned for TD, 14-14, 2Q 14:45. Turnovers inside your own red zone are bad, mmkay?
T20 1 10 3-WR, Slot Strong Run 3 White Stretch
Fewer people at the line of scrimmage, more people shortly after the line of scrimmage. Short run right tackle.
T23 2 7 Strong I Run 5 White Counter
Counter right tackle, and there’s a hole there, but White doesn’t appear to be showing the same burst through the hole he did earlier in the game and is brought down after a decent gain of 5 that should have been longer.
T28 3 2 Strong I, 2-WR Weak Pass 5 Hall Flat
Very simple play: Hall starts in his customary fullback spot, this time to the strong right side. Nobody covers him immediately, so VY smartly finds him for a short gain and, imporantly, the first down. (CA)
T33 1 10 2-TE Strong Pass 11 Hartsock Checkdown
I’m not really sure how this play was designed. I think it was supposed to be a quick screen, but Hartsock blocked for what seemed like quite a while before VY threw the ball to him. The GB defense was at this point either all near White or in coverage downfield, so Hartsock had a good amount of space in which to run. Mawae looks like he may have been about 5 yards downfield when the pass is thrown; not sure, but if so that’s something that really bugs me as a matter of principle. (CA)
T44 1 10 2-TE Strong Run 18 Davis End Around
Davis starts off slot weak, then runs to the H-back position strong right normally occupied by one of the Titans’ stouter blocking WRs (Moulds or Jones). At the snap, Davis runs the sort of loop behind VY and takes the handoff (which they’d faked to Jones, I think, earlier in the game). Davis shows off his PR-type skills to elude a couple potential tacklers about 8-12 yards downfield and has a nice gain.
G38 1 10 I-Formation Run 1 White Toss Left
A toss play works better with a quicker back. This play worked with Brown, and didn’t work with White.
G37 2 9 Trips Right Pass 4 Moulds Sitdown
Moulds comes out of his trips slot and runs a little 4 yard sitdown route. VY quickly throws the ball to him. (CA) Not a glamorous play, but the ability to get 4 yards consistently is not one that should be forgotten. Of course, this play may also be used to set up a pump-and-go in Week 11.
G33 3 5 Shotgun Base Pass Inc Scaife Drag(?)
So, yeah, what’s going on here? I’m not really sure. VY takes a look, doesn’t see anything he likes and rolls out a little. He sees Scaife on the drag and throws one over his head. A better throw might have been ahead of Bo, but the LB did have pretty good coverage. Call it (.5 CA, .5 IN), a total cop-out call.
Drive Notes: FG, 17-14, 3Q 9:46. Bironas hits the figgie from 51 to give the Titans the lead again. It was good to move the ball down the field and get points after mediocre starting field position thanks to a kickoff. A much better way to send out the starters than the Titans’ first “drive” of the second half.

Pass chart?

@ Pats 0 12.5 4.5 3 1 3
@ Bills 1 14.5 1.5 1 2 2
v Packers 2 11.5 1.5 1 2 1

Not a bad game against the Packers, with mostly perfectly adequate throws with only slight degree of difficulty. Preseason grades are mostly meaningless, in all honesty. The only thing I might be worried about is if the answer to “Did VY look terrible?” had been yes for longer than a quarter or so (the beginning of the Patriots game). Easy throws, vanilla offense, vanilla defense.

It seems like the Titans ran a whole passel of 3-WR sets this game, especially early in the game. I don’t really expect that to be the case in the regular season, but suspect it may have been more a case of looking more at WRs in terms of playing time priority and cutdowns. From the WR perspective, Brandon Jones played a lot and seemed to be the primary target; projections of Roydell Williams as VY’s main guy after the Buffalo game seem as misguided as I expected them to be.

Let me run some numbers by you: 1, 1, 3, 0, 3, 6, -1, 6, 2, 5, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 1. That’s LenDale White’s production on first down in the preseason. One thing I like about Football Outsiders is their running back success rate. Basically, a rush is considered a success if it gains enough yardage based on the down and distance. On first down, runs that get 40% of the way to the first down are successful. White in the preseason had 3 successful rushes on 16 carries, a poor 18.8% Success Rate. Yes, it’s the preseason, but that’s not a sustainable number in the regular season. That means a lot of 2nd and long, which means a lot of 3rd and long, which means a lot of ended drives. For the record, Brown’s 1st down success rate was 52.6% on 19 attempts, Ganther’s was 33.3% on 3 attempts, and Henry’s was 23.1% on 13 attempts.

Real charting begins in earnest with Sunday’s game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville. At least at the beginning of the year, I’ll be playing this one by ear w/r/t timing. Offense will be up before defense, simply because I’m more used to doing offense. Maybe Wednesday first half, Thursday second half for offensse, followed by defense on Saturday morning. Depends in part on that whole “day job” thing. I’ll figure something out.

UPDATE (9/5 0030 CT): Whole game now up. Introduction revised accordingly. I’m tired, so typos likely. Commitments tomorrow mean fixing and additions not likely until late, but I’ll see what I can manage.
UPDATE (9/6 0110 CT): Pass chart and additional comments up. Any more content comes up in a new post. Total Titans post coming after I get some sleep, which may mean tomorrow morning or evening.


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