Reading and Thinking Football

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Upon Further Review: TEN@NO Offense

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In Week 3, the Titans beat the Saints, 31-14. What follows below is a play-by-play breakdown of the Titans’ offensive performance that game.

T20 1 10 2-TE Strong, 2-WR Weak Pass 19 Scaife Deep Out
VY with the playfake to White, then bootlegs to the strong side. He guns a pass downfield for Scaife, who goes up and hauls it in for a good gain to open the game. (CA)
T39 1 10 Shotgun Split Backs, Slot Left Pass 13 R.Williams Comeback
Fake the handoff to one of the backs, then stand in the pocket, look for an open receiver, and hit Roydell on the left for a dozen yards on the comeback. Two plays, two good pitches and catches, two first downs. (CA)
N48 1 10 I-Formation Run 2 White Cutback
Blah, short run middle.
N46 2 8 I-Form, 2-TE Strong Pass 4 Scaife Drag
Scaife comes out of the second TE position, then runs a shallow drag route from left to rigt. VY hits him, but the Saints are able to converge quickly and tackle him short of the first down. This is a play that works better with (a) a slot-type WR with better YAC ability, like maybe Davis, and (b) a team that’s more of a threat to attack downfield. (CA)
N42 3 4 3-WR, Slot Weak Pass 10 Moulds In
Moulds lines up left, almost in a sort of stack behind Jones. VY does well to put the ball in between a couple defenders on the 7-yard in. (DO) is a little inflated, but it’s a third down play and a fairly tight window.
N32 1 10 I-Form, 3-WR Run 4 White Iso
Short run right side. Note here that, like the Colts, the Saints learned from the Jaguars’ error, and are playing 7 in the box when the Titans go 3 wide. In fact, it looks like they’re in the base 4-3 and didn’t even bother to go nickel.
N28 2 6 Trips Right Pass 12 Young Scramble
I believe the trips are Troupe, Scaife, and Jones, with Moulds close left and White the lone setback. VY looks, then takes off. He dodges a tackler in the backfield, picks up a couple blocks, and scoots out of bounds after getting the first down. Well-done scramble for the entire team. (SCR)
N16 1 10 I-Formation Run -11 R.Williams End Around
This was an all-around disaster of a play. The Saints got huge penetration and totally blew the play up. If you’re going to run a play like this, do it out of 4-WR so you can act like you might go downfield. The Saints probably expected run and just killed this play. All the good momentum you had from the first couple plays of the drive is gone now.
N27 2 21 Shotgun (2-TE Strong, 2-WR Weak?) Pass Inc Moulds Deep Out
Thanks to ESPN for showing us VY and only VY up to and through the snap of the ball, so the formation is a guess. There’s not really anybody open, so VY throws deep corner for Moulds, in a play where it’s going to be Eric or nobody, and it’s nobody. If I hadn’t gotten rid of Thrown Away, it’d be that, so instead it’s (CA).
N27 3 21 Shotgun Strong n/a -12 Young Fumble
The shotgun snap appears to be a little bit to the left of VY, not too far, and he does a terrible job of handling it, almost like he wasn’t concentrating enough on it. It’s all he can do to fall on the ball and avoid the turnover.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 1Q 8:52. Great start of the drive, terrible ending. The Roydell end around was a terrible call, the 2nd down pass play was well defended, and the fumble snap is just VY’s fault.
T45 1 10 4-WR Pass Inc Davis Drag
See, this is more the sort of play where the shallow drag makes sense. The only problem is the Titans still have problem (b) I mentioned earlier, that they’re not attacking down the field deep. This play is actually batted away by the guy covering the WR in the flat who started on that side, but that’s not the worst result for the Titans, as the defender had good enough coverage on Davis that a pick if the shorter defender hadn’t been there was quite possible. The defender could afford to make that jump because the other WR who started to the side the pass was thrown to had run a comeback. This is a ball VY should not have thrown. (BR)
T45 2 10 3-WR, Slot Weak Pass 10 White Screen
For a change, I shall praise White. And Norm Chow, but that’s not as unusual. This play was set up by the bootleg the first play of the game. VY moves a little into the boot action after the fake, then throws to White. White actually runs forward(!) rather than dancing to try to find a bigger hole, and gets 2 extra yards by just diving forward, enough to get the first down. (CA)
N45 1 10 I-Formation Run 0 White Cutback
And we now return to your irregularly scheduled criticism of LenDale White. He sees a sort of cutback lane to the outside here, but moves more forward at first, then kind of tries to take the cutback lane but is brought down by an arm tackle of S Roman Harper. For a big back, White doesn’t seem to break that many tackles. Then again, neither did Ron Dayne, and we all know what a great NFL player he is. Ok, Dayne probably doesn’t even try to make the cut outside here, but the result is probably the same.
N45 2 10 Weak I Run 3 White Counter
Scaife motions from a 2-TE set to a FB spot opposite Hartsock. The play is supposed to go off tackle to the strong side, but contain isn’t great, so White takes it up the middle for a short gain.
N42 3 7 Shotgun Strong Pass 19 Jones In
Jones lines up alone on the right, then runs an in about 15 yards downfield. The middle of the field coverage is too deep to matter, and CB McKenzie was playing outside. Easy pitch and catch over the middle of the field. (CA)
N23 1 G Weak I Pass 13 Jones In
Playaction, and it’s another in route, this time on the left side for a dozen yards. VY at this point is 7 of 9 for 88 yards, plus a scramble for a dozen more. Ignoring the (costly) fumbled snap, that’s 11 yards per play on pass plays. (CA)
N10 1 G I-Formation Run -5 Brown Iso(?)
Whatever this play was supposed to be, the guy to the left (Moulds, I think, but it might have been Troupe) was supposed to get a chip on Will Smith, but didn’t, so the former Buckeye is in the backfield to blow up the play. Brown never had a chance.
N15 2 G Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WR Pass Inc R.Williams Comeback
The Saints blitz, but the Titans pick it up. It looks like all the WRs should be single-covered. VY throws for Roydell down about the 2 on the comeback, but his pass is a little high and Roydell can’t bring it in. (IN)
N15 3 G Shotgun Trips Right Pass Inc Scaife Out and Up
Ok, maybe it’s more of a flat and go than an out and up. Scaife comes from the trips and runs an out route. VY, who’s getting pressure from the DEs, throws it for Scaife like the pass for Moulds on 2&21 earlier, except this one is far enough out that it wasn’t a realistic possibility to catch. Kudos to the Saints here, for getting pressure with 4 and seemingly not giving VY anywhere to throw the ball. (IN) solely because the ball goes OOB.
Drive Notes: FG, 3-0, 1Q 2:48. I swear, it seems like the Titans are really good at getting first and goal from the 8-10. And this is the second straight time a first down running play in the red zone has last yardage. At least they threw the ball down the field and moved down to the red zone, though only 3 points for two red zone trips is disappointing.
N45 1 10 2-TE Strong Run 6 White Iso
White runs forward up the middle. Good gain. If I had an end zone view of this play, I’d probably break it down to see just how the hole was created.
N39 2 4 4-WR Run 1 Brown Cutback
It’s a cutback run up the middle. And we see the evolution of the defense. The Saints are playing 4 DL, plus 2 LBs, plus the two defenders on the slot WRs are shaded in like the Colts players were. The best call here is a quick pass to the far WR on the left side. DT Hollis Thomas does a good job to shed the block and get enough to Brown to stop him for a short gain, but the LB was there to stop him from getting much more.
N38 3 3 Shotgun 4-WR Close Pass 2 Hartsock Flat
Hartsock runs a simple 2 yard route into the right flat. VY throws the ball for him, and it’s a catch, but Harper makes a good tackle to take him down short of the first down. A better pass is ahead of Hartsock and maybe lets him get the first down. (CA)
N36 4 1 2-TE Run 1 Brown Cutback
Blah, short run middle. Good energy by Brown here-too many times it seems like the first effort that met him in the backfield on this play would get him, but he’s able to dive forward for the first down. Again, another play I’d write more about with game tape from the end zone angle.
N35 1 10 2-TE Pass Inc R.Williams Flea Flicker
It’s a two-man route, and the problem with that is you depend on the Saints being irresponsible defensively and committing heavily to the run. They don’t, and there’s nowhere to go with the ball. The Titans seem to throw this drag over the middle on every single flea flicker, because the deep guy isn’t totally uncovered. Good play by Josh Bullocks to break up the pass. (CA)
N35 2 10 Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WR Pass 35-TD Jones In
Let’s hear it for bad defense! VY hits Jones on a basic 17 yard in over the middle, and Jones is able to split the Saints D and take the ball to the end zone. Thanks to S Roman Harper for making a terrible read. (CA)
Drive Notes: TD, 10-0, 2Q 12:55. A little bit of a gamble, to go for it on 4&1 from the NO36, pays off. See the power of big passing plays? Thanks to the Saints for good field position.
N31 1 10 3-WR, Slot Strong Pass INT Troupe Drag
Troupe is the guy in the slot to the strong side, and VY tries to hit him about 20 yards downfield. Alas, there are about 3 Saints between where Troupe’s supposed to be and where VY’s pass goes and the Saints get their interception right back. I have NO idea what Vince Young saw on this play, but whatever it was he was wrong. (BR)
Drive Notes: INT, 10-0, 2Q 10:05. Turnovers are bad, mmkay?
T17 1 10 Standard 2-TE, 2-WR Left Run 3 White Cutback
See LenDale run. See LenDale run into his own blocker. See LenDale slide off his blocker into the hole. See LenDale actually gain yards that way.
T20 2 7 Weak I, 2-TE Strong Run 5 White Iso
Blah, short run forward.
T25 3 2 I-Form, Standard 2-TE Pass Inc Gage Flag
I don’t understand this playcall out of this formation. You run a single WR and you send him deep on third and short, leaving both backs in to block. And the single WR is Justin Gage, not Randy Moss, or Chad Johnson, or Steve Smith, or some dominant WR. Justin Gage, the guy who had 4 catches last year. I don’t really want to punish VY, since I know it’s not his fault the only place he seemed to have to throw the ball was double covered, but yeesh. (IN)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 2Q 5:35. Bad times on third down are good ways to end drives.
T20 1 10 Shotgun Base Pass 8 Brown Checkdown
Collins in at QB for this drive that ends the first half. I figured the Titans would just kneel the ball, since they could, but Collins comes out throwing. He eventually dumps it off to Brown, who dodges a tackle at the line of scrimmage and gets a couple yards. (CA)
T28 2 2 Shotgun Strong Pass 7 Brown Checkdown
See above. Brown dodges a tackle to get the first down, and gets tackled without doing any further damage. The Titans for some reason take a TO after taking a leisurely 30 seconds, half of their time, to get 15 yards. (CA)
T35 1 10 Shotgun Base Pass 6 R.Williams Quick Out
Roydell lines up wide left, runs 6 yards, turns out, catches the ball, then runs out of bounds. Simple, productive play in the two minute drill. (CA)
T41 2 4 Shotgun Strong Pass 1 Brown Checkdown
Short pass to Brown after he gets the chip, but he can’t dodge the LB’s tackle this time. Fisher elects to just let the clock run rather than potentially giving the ball back to the Saints on a return after a failed third down play. Conservative, a little too conservative for me, but it’s his team that largely outplayed the other team in the first half and is only up by 3. (CA)
Drive Notes: End of half, 10-7. See above. This was a disappointing for half from a score perspective.
T9 1 10 Weak I Run 6 White Cutback
It’s a cutback run, and there’s a great cutback lane to the right. White being White, he runs left into the pile and only sees the cutback lane after he runs into the pile. For a change, an arm tackle by an off-balance player doesn’t bring him down, and he gets 6 yards instead of 3 or 25 like a good back would.
T15 2 4 Standard 2-TE Run 1 White Iso
Blah, short run up middle.
T16 3 3 Shotgun Base Pass Inc Moulds Drag
VY stands in the pocket and tries to hit Moulds at the sticks on a drag route. VY puts the pass a little behind Moulds instead of ahead of him, perhaps being a little too conscious of the LB-he had a window here, but didn’t hit it. If he’s going to err, this is the direction to err, but better not to err. After further consideration, I don’t like where VY put the ball still, but this was a better throw by VY and a better play by David than I initially realized. (CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-7, 3Q 12:54. If you can’t convert on third down, you can’t sustain drives.
T43 1 10 Weak I, 3-WR Run 19 Brown Iso
It starts out as a run left guard, but as soon as Brown breaks through the hole, he sees lots of space to the right side and cuts it back. Last year’s Chris Brown is tackled after about 8 yards, but he dodges Jason David, picks up a block from Moulds, and gets 19. Awesome run.
N38 1 10 I-Form, 3-WR Run 4 Brown Off Tackle
Another play where Chris Brown 2007 does significantly better than CB06. This is a run right tackle that isn’t blocked particularly well, but Brown is able to avoid the arm tackles and burst through the hole before getting brought down by the next wave after a good first down gain.
N34 2 6 Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WR Pass 2 Brown Checkdown
VY looks, looks, dumps it to Brown over the middle, and he gets tackled immediately by LB Scott Fujita. (CA), but given Brown’s minimal YAC opportunity and big hit taken potential, I think I would have rather seen a low percentage, low risk pass to a wideout, if such a thing had been available.
N32 3 4 Shotgun Strong Run 8 White Read Option
It’s a handoff to the back! The Saints pressure from the strong side, and White takes the carry to the weak side where he goes 5 yards before being touched, and then only by Jason Craft. Craft, for those of you who don’t know, is a CB who tackles like a CB and covers like a S.
N24 1 10 Strong I, Standard 2-TE Run 3 White Iso
Blah, short run middle.
N21 2 7 I-Form, 3-WR Run 4 White Cutback
White has a great chance on a cutback run to pick up some good yardage. And falls down.
N17 3 3 Shotgun 4-WR Pass 2 Young Scramble
N17 3 3 Penalty 5 NO-Thomas Offside
The Saints jump offside and, rather than take a shot deep, VY takes a quick look, then takes off. He moves forward, then, instead of just falling down and making sure he has the 3 yards for the first down (really more like 2.1 yards), he tries to get out of bounds on his own and gets what’s probably a bad spot just short of the first down. It’s not a bad idea to take off or to try to avoid the hit, but it wasn’t the best decision from where he was on the field. At least with the penalty it didn’t matter. (SCR)
N12 1 10 Weak I, 2-TE Strong Run 1 Brown Stretch
Stretch play to the weak and short left side. Roydell doesn’t get a good block on David, and Brown isn’t capable of running through people.
N11 2 9 Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WR Pass 10 Moulds Out
VY scrambles a little in the pocket and throws way outside to Moulds, who does a good job to comeback for the ball and haul it in despite pressure from McKenzie, who forced him out on the play. Didn’t really matter, as Moulds hauled it in anyway, but Payton does blow a challenge on the play. May I just say I love Mike Carey and the explanations he gives? (CA)
N1 1 G I-Form, 2-WR Weak Run 1-TD White Iso
Short run middle into the end zone.
Drive Notes: TD, 17-14, 3Q 2:19. It’s always nice to end a drive in the end zone. Good return by Griffin to set the Titans up with pretty good field position, Brown with a couple nice runs, and White didn’t manage to kill the drive by his lonesome.
T49 1 10 I-Form, 2-TE Strong Run 6 Brown Counter
Brown takes the counter off tackle and uses his speed to just run laterally to get outside and pick up 6 yards. Good use of the speed, though I think if Bell gets a better seal on the pull, Brown can use that speed to run upfield instead of laterally.
N45 2 4 Shotgun Base Run 2 Brown Counter Off Tackle(?)
Can you really have a counter run out of the shotgun without any motion? I’m undecided. Anyway, Brown is lined up to VY’s left and takes the handoff for a run behind Stewart. He needs to go further laterally and get outside the defense, but instead tries to go just off tackle and is tackled after a short gain.
N43 3 2 4-WR Close(?) Pass 18 R.Williams Drag?
I have no idea what happens on this play. ESPN doesn’t show us the formation, instead concentrating on VY, so 4-WR close is a guess, with Scaife one of the 4 WRs. The pass is a throw to Roydell on the right side, and he’s wide open and picks up 15 YAC. As best I can sell, the defender responsible is Jason Craft, who fell down as he was following Roydell across the middle of the field. (CA)
N25 1 10 2-TE Strong, 2-WR Weak Run 0 Brown Cutback
Well, I don’t see the snap, but I think I’m right that this was a cutback run where the cutback lane was filled, so Brown took it up the middle into the pile for not much.
N25 2 10 Standard 2-TE Run 11 Young Bootleg
VY fakes the cutback run up the middle and runs a keeper to the outside. Lots of space, so he gets the first down and scoots out of bounds. This is a fun to play to run in Madden with VY, FYI, or at least I enjoy it.
N14 1 10 Strong, Standard 2-TE Run 3 White Iso
Power running formation = power run = short gain strong right side.
N11 2 7 Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WR Pass 6 Jones Slant
The Saints bring a big blitz up the middle, so VY throws the quick slant to Jones, who’s split out to the left side. Kudos to Jason Craft for defying my expectation of his (lack of) competence and making the tackle to prevent the TD. (CA)
N5 3 1 I-Form, Standard 2-TE Run 2 White Right Tackle
Power running formation = power running play = short gain to the right side. All White has to do is go forward, which is easy enough even he can do it.
N3 1 G I-Form, 2-WR Weak Run 0 White Iso
Short run middle.
N3 2 G 2-TE Strong Pass 3-TD Scaife Rollout
VY with the move right and throws it back to Scaife, who came open when the defender went to cover Hartsock, who was nearer VY and the sidelines. Good play design, forcing the defense to have to be disciplined. Most defenses will fail sooner or later, and the Saints did on this play. (CA)
Drive Notes: TD, 24-14, 4Q 8:55. It’s always nice to end a drive with a TD, especially a drive as important as this one. Good job to take advantage of good starting field position after LaBoy forced Brees to fumble.
N13 1 10 I-Formation Run 7 Brown Stretch
Stretch play right side. This is just a zone read for Brown, and he finds an alley that lets him pick up 7 yards.
N6 2 3 I-Form, Standard 2-TE Run 2 Brown Iso
Power running formation = power run = short run middle.
N4 3 1 I-Form, 2-WR Weak Run -1 White Left Tackle
Blah, short run left side
Drive Notes: Missed FG, 24-14, 4Q 4:53. Starting with this sort of good field position, you’d really like to come away with some points here. A TD really seals the game, while a FG means the Saints would need 2 TDs. And the offense can’t execute on third down, because the defense stacks the box, while Bironas honks the short FG.

The Titans also had 2 kneeldowns after Keith Bulluck’s 3rd interception of the game ended the Saints’ final drive. And, of course, Vinny Fuller’s interception return for a TD prevented the office from running another actual play, but I’m not going to complain about that in the least.

UPDATE (10/24, 2134 CT): Whole game PBP up. Additional comments to follow sooner or later-probably Saturday.


Written by Tom Gower

October 18, 2007 at 04:00

Posted in Uncategorized

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