Sunday, December 31, 2006

Playoff Update

A rooting guide for tomorrow, since I still haven't watched last Sunday's game against the Bills...

For the Titans to make the playoffs, all of the following must happen:
(i) TEN over NE;
(ii) PIT over CIN;
(iii) KC over JAX; and
(iv) SF over DEN

If any of (i)-(iv) fails to happen, the Titans will not make the playoffs. If you wish, in addition to the above outcomes, you may also root for Baltimore to win and/or Indianapolis to lose. That way, the Colts would be the #3 seed and face the #6 seed Titans in the opening round of the playoffs next weekend. Such a game would feature the presence of Yours Truly, which would mean first-hand reports after the fact of such a game and a better UFR. Sure, maybe having 5 of 6 things happen is unlikely, but they're a damn sight more likely to happen than what needs come to pass for the Packers to make the playoffs after the Giants' win tonight.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Vacation Notice

I will be leaving town in the morning and will not return until the 28th. If possible, I will try to get a post up on the Buffalo game and playoff scenarios for Week 17 (if applicable), but make no promises. Regular blogging should return on the 28th, though UFR will depend on whether or not DirecTV cooperates while I am out of town or an alternate source of the game becomes available.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Passing Chart

Brian at MGoBlog has been the inspiration (read rip-off target) for all of the UFR stuff. This includes his passing chart, which I'm introducing right now. You've seen these weird abbreviations, like (CA), (IN), and (BR) in the play-by-play breakdowns. What do these mean? If you follow the link, you can see Brian's descriptions. Mine are a little bit different:

DO: Dead-On. Throws that are just perfect. This is reserved for throws of rare beauty and perfection, or at least those more than 15 yards down the field. Finding a small hole in a zone, hitting a guy in stride on a deep pass, awesomeness emanating from the QB position. These are throws Peyton Manning would gladly claim as his own.

CA: Catchable. These are the run-of-the-mill accurate throws, neither particularly good nor particularly bad. This is the highest possible grade for easy throws barring some sort of Herculean effort. CA fits a wide range of throws, probably too many.

IN: Inaccurate. Deep balls underthrown by 5 yards or more. Passes thrown 5 feet over the receiver's head. Much of the oeuvre of Kerry Collins, or perhaps almost every pass thrown by Reggie Ball if you're a college fan.

PR: Pressure. These plays were negatively affected by people rushing the QB. Includes not just those throws graded PR, but also quarterback sacks.

SCR: Scramble. On a designed pass play, the QB takes off and runs with the football. If I think it's a designed pass play, I call it a pass play and scramble. Does not include designed runs.

BR: Bad Read. VY's pick in the end zone by Jackson in the second Colts game is a good example. VY thought he had an open receiver, and missed the DB playing centerfield. Throwing into double coverage and ignoring the guy open 12 yards downfield also falls here, though this is harder to spot on TV.

Well, the pass chart is where all of these come together, more or less. Since I've only broken down 4 games, wasn't doing passing grades for one of them, and haven't broken down fully 1 of the 3, this data won't be very complete. But, it'll be an advance on what's already out there.

v Colts296051
@ Texans3214362
v Jaguars0105300

Quick reads: Jacksonville game: 18 pass plays, 8 bad scores; Houston game: 39 pass plays, 9 bad scores; Colts game (as of right now): 23 pass plays, 7 bad scores. Yes, the total pass plays don't match VY's overall attempts: my data includes all plays, including those erased by penalty.

This is still a work in progress; I hope to fill in the blanks in the Colts game, and also the Jints and Iggles games, plus add the Bills game when the time is right. With the holiday schedule, I don't know when this will happen, but it might not be for a week or more.

Some Interesting Links

Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders posts some of FO's stats for cornerbacks on this Fox blog post. Note who's #1 in Stop Rate and #8 in Yards Per Pass. As the primary Tennessee game charter (which means I've charted 18 of the 28 halves the Titans have played this year for the FO Game Charting Project), I really hope these numbers are good. Pacman's shown the sort of quality play you expect in the second year from a CB drafted #6 overall. But I've thought he's been inconsistent and I didn't think he was that good. I suspect part of the good stats may come from the Titans' Cover-2, where the safeties cover deep and the CBs have more short responsibility. I hope I haven't been too kind to #32.

I've only posted NFL content here so far, but those of you who've noticed the sidebar have seen the names of some college football blogs. One of them, Sunday Morning Quarterback, has put up a couple posts entitled "Stat Relevance Watch," looking at what statistics for college teams correlate with wins. Here are links to the introductory Part One; Part Two, which looks at what the best teams do best; and Part Three, which begins the detailed conference breakdowns with a look at the ACC (preview: not a good year for pass offense in the ACC, not that that's a big surprise).

Iconic college football blog Every Day Should Be Saturday (EDSBS, for short), had a long interview with famed author Michael Lewis, whose latest book, The Blind Side, looks at the increased importance of the Left Tackle. Transcript available online, part one and part two, or download the MP3s and listen instead.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Upon Further Review: JAX@TEN

Hey, I'm actually getting this one up on a timely basis. Gotta be at work early tomorrow, so any errors, corrections, improvements, etc. not likely until Thursday afternoon or evening.

T41110Standard 2-TERun2HenryLeft Tackle
Titans start out with 2 TEs-Hartsock and Wallace, just elevated to the practice squad. Everybody who predicted before Week 1 the Week 15 starting TEs would be those two, stand up. Sit down, you liars. McCray and Henderson do a good job of holding their own on this play, and Griesen is able to beat Wallace's block to make the tackle.
Henry is already getting the handoff by the time CBS finishes introducing the Jags D. Tough running for Henry up the middle.
T4734I-Formation, 3-WR, Slot RightRun1HenryIso
HB run up the middle is kind of an odd call for 3&4, particularly against a rush D as generally stout as the Jags. Ingram attacks where the hole could be, and they clog it up and stop Henry short of the first down.
Drive Notes: I'm not trying to give the Jags D a lot of love, but they came out looking strong against the Titans the first drive. I would have liked to see a pass somewhere on this drive to help set up the run.
T22110I-Formation, 3-WR, Slot LeftRun5HenryOff Tackle
Odd formation, with Hartsock lined up slot left. Hall doesn't get a very good block on Griesen(?), but Henry avoids him anyway and gets a nice gain on first down. Little screen to Henry.
T27253-WR, Slot WeakPass2HenryScreen
JAX only rushes 4, so not many guys get sucked upfield. Smith does a good job of seeing the play and avoiding Bell's block. (CA)
T27333-WR, Slot WeakPassIncBennettSlant Out
Williams has a grab on Bennett, which is legal within 5 yards, but becomes illegal when he doesn't let go when VY releases the ball. Williams is then able to get inside positioning and knock the ball away. (CA)
Drive Notes: Third down would have been a great time for a screen, as JAX showed blitz with all 3 LBs, though only 1 of them ended up coming. Quick hitter to a speed back out of the backfield would have been great as well. Yes, I'm trying to avoid concentrating on a missed official's call ending a drive.
T301103-WR, Slot WeakPass22WadeIn
Good route against the zone. Wade runs an 18 yard in, over the LBs and in front of the deep cover guys. (CA)
J481102-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakPass6WallaceWaggle
More waggle action. Wallace is the bootleg blocker/receiving outlet. VY dumps it off to him and gets a decent little gain. (CA)
J42243-WR, Slot WeakRun2HenryIso
Pacman in as the slot guy, Jags don't pay much attention to him. Steve Tasker without the brilliant "Don't think that went unnoticed" after it, well, did, by the ex-Bills special team ace and PBP guy Gus Johnson. Similar to what TEN did before, running Henry. Except, y'know, if he's a decoy, try running to the other side?
J4032Strong IPassIncBennettDeep Post
VY scrambles, finds Bennett a little late, and puts the ball too far from him near the goal-line. Griesen was in good position to prevent VY from scrambling for a first down. (IN)
J4042I-Formation, 2-TE StrongRun0HenryIso
Play is designed to go right side, but Stroud lines up with a wide split, so Stewart blocks him. That means Hartsock has to block DE Spicer. Spicer beats him inside, destroying the lane and Hall's block. Henry tries to bounce outside, but Deon Grant does a good job in contain. Good run D all around. Henry's best play here actually would have been to go up the middle between Stroud and Henderson--not what you'd expect.
Drive Notes: A disappointing ending to a drive, with the VY overthrow and a failure to convert on 4&2. It was nice to see Fisher go for it, in a situation where the percentages are fairly close. Personally, I would have preferred a play where VY's mobility could have been put to use, maybe some more waggle action.
T30110Weak IPenalty-5HartsockFalse Start
T25115Weak IPassIncJonesDeep Post(?)
Scramble drill after Spicer(?) beats Stewart to the inside. Jones is open deep, but VY can only throw the ball 55 yards. If this is a good throw, this is a big TD, because Jones had Mathis beat deep. I have more sympathy for Jones' tendency to stop on VY's deep passes because of throws like this one. (IN)
T252153-WR, Slot WeakPass7WadeSlant
Kind of a weird play. Wade runs a sort of quick slant and sits down. VY is apparently looking somewhere else and scrambles before finding him for a decent gain. If VY was waiting for Wade, that was probably a bad play by him. (CA)
T3238Split Backs, 3-WRPassIncWadeSeam
There's a little opening to Wade down the seam, but VY's throw is a little high and behind him and leads Wade into Sensabaugh's hit. (IN)
Drive Notes: False start hurt the start of the drive, and VY just wasn't accurate enough on the other plays, particularly the long ball to Jones.
T401103-WR, Slot WeakPass-3YoungSack
McCray and Meier stunted, and Bell wasn't able to stop McCray as he came inside. This flushed VY, and Meier released off Roos to get the sack from behind. This one is on Bell.
T37213Shotgun BasePass19WadeOuts
Wade and Williams line up left, slot and outside. Williams runs a short out, Wade a deep out. VY makes a good throw to hit out. (CA)
J44110Shotgun 4-WR, 3 RightPass14PacmanOut(?)
Pacman in the game at the near slot right. Jags blitz 6 against 6, VY scrambles outside and finds Pacman. Sensabaugh was on Pacman, but he'd gone deep on the scramble drill and left Pacman open a dozen yards downfield.
J30110Shotgun BasePass-5YoungSack
McCray's having a good series. He gets by Roos, and whacks the ball away from VY from behind as he scrambles out of the pocket. You'd like to see VY has greater awareness of ball security than he shows here. Thankfully, Stewart is able to fall on the ball
J352153-WR, Slot WeakPass9WhiteCheckdown
VY doesn't see anything he likes and dumps it down to White. Throw is a little high for how short it is, but still in the acceptable range. (CA)
J2636Shotgun BasePassIncBennettOut
Just a short out, enough for the first down. But as Williams drives Bennett out of bounds, his helmet comes up and knocks the ball out of Bennett's hands. Called a catch on the field, but ruled incomplete on the replay review. Win some, lose some. In its universal nature, this is a catch. (CA)
Drive Notes: And Bironas misses the FG to add insult to injury, or something, so the Jags have a 10-7 halftime lead.
J14110Trips RightPass6WilliamsCurl
Trips right, and it's a throw back to Roydell, who was the sole man left. Decent short gain on first down. (CA)
J8243-WR, Slot StrongRun-1HenryOff Tackle
Why do you give Travis Henry the ball like it's a run up the middle and have him try to sprint outside? I'm hoping somebody screwed up on this play, because Grant came up on outside contain and Henry couldn't find any running room inside.
J935Strong IPassIncBennettOut and Up
Kind of like a mini version of the out and up, crossed with a fade. There was a place this ball could have made it, but VY's throw is not merely not good, but bad, as in out of bounds. As a general rule, I HATE the fade route on 3rd/4th down, and this play is a good example why. (IN)
Drive Notes: Thank goodness for Pacman's great kickoff return. Another 3&out for TEN, but this one results in points because of the wonderful starting position. Oh, in case you haven't noticed, this was NOT VY's best game throwing the ball. After this drive, the Titans wouldn't have the ball for over 20 more minutes of gametime and nearly an hour of realtime, but would go from 10-10 with Bironas's FG here to 24-10 with the returns by Finnegan and Hope.
T11103-WR, Slot WeakRun1YoungSneak
Weird formation, with Wade lined up as a WR where a TE would line up. Uh, he's Bobby Wade, not a blocker. This is just to pick up a yard or 2 to get some room to operate after JAX failed on 4&G from the 1. Drives that start inside the 5 are more likely to produce a TD for the other team than for you, so anything you can get is almost a bonus. This, of course, is part of why teams maybe should go for it on 4&G more often, particularly when you're facing an offense as anemic as TEN's had been.
T229I-Formation, Standard 2-TERun16HenryIso
Isn't it nice when plays just ... work? EXCELLENT blocking here at the point of attack, giving Henry 9 good yards before he faces a real potential tackler. Some hard running at the end picks up the 16. This was a HUGE run for getting the Titans out of the shadow of their goalline (y'know, chalk three feet high and whatnot).
T181102-TE StrongRun3HenryIso
Not much to say about this play, looks a little like a stretch that doesn't and ends up going at right tackle, where the 2-TE were.
T2127Standard 2-TERun8YoungQB Run
This may be a busted play, but I think it's a designed run to the bootleg side. Not enough boot action to be a real waggle, VY makes Grant miss and has an easy run for a first down. This is VY as RB.
Generic run up the middle. This sort of play wears on me a little-it's tough to say something rewarding and unique about it, and it's not worth it to review who was blocking everybody on a 2 yard gain. If I were an assistant coach, well, different story. But, I'm not.
T31283-WR, Slot StrongRun1HenryIso
See above re generic middle run. Formation was interesting, as the 2-WR out right were both split way out. Not sure what that's supposed to be.
T3237I-Formation, 3-WRPass-20(!)YoungSack
Jags have pressure up the middle, so VY scrambles outside. Where there's contain, so he scrambles back towards the middle, only further back. Keeps retreating, retreating, and eventually eats the ball for a big loss. 20-20 hindsight, he should have simply thrown the ball away or gotten what he could when he first moved outside. This is a rookie (or Aaron Brooks) mistake.
Drive Notes: Despite the lackluster ending, this was a pretty good drive. The Titans pick up only 11 net yards, but drove for 31 before the sack. More important in a 24-10 game, they took 3:02 off the clock and would have taken a lot more if the Jags hadn't used all their timeouts. It would have been nice to finish the game on this drive, but it was what it was.
J42110I-Formation, Standard 2-TERun2HenryIso
Everybody who thought Jeff Fisher was going to come out pass here, you don't know how Fisher works.
J4028I-Formation, Standard 2-TERun-4YoungBootleg
VY fakes the handoff and boots it, but Ingram stayed at home. VY manages to avoid a big loss, but still loses a few yards. At least he didn't try anything stupid.
J443123-WR, Slot StrongPass(!)Inc(!)Jones?
Unlike, well, this play. Listing Jones as the intended receiver here is, well, generous. There's very little nice to say about this play. Hartsock was failing to block McCray (Mario Williams notwithstanding, that shouldn't happen), and VY should have just eaten this ball and let Hentrich punt from midfield. He's fortunate he wasn't called for grounding as well. (IN, STUUUPID)
Drive Notes: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. You don't throw the ball there. I've felt a little uncomfortable always singing the praises of VY, like I did in the Giants game breakdown. Well, he screwed up here.

Passing charts coming this week, really.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Titan Playoff Scenarios

After Week 15 of the NFL season, the NFL standings are in flux. After winning 5 straight games, the Titans are battling the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, and Kansas City Chiefs for the two AFC wild card slots. Slim though their hopes may be, the Titans can still make the playoffs. Here's what would have to happen:

1. The Titans win their final two games, against Buffalo and New England
2. No more than one of the following happens:
(i) New York Jets win both of their last 2 games;
(ii) Cincinnati Bengals win 1+ of their last 2 games;
(iii) Pittsburgh Steelers win both of their remaining games;
(iv) Jacksonville Jaguars win both of their remaining games; or
(v) Denver Broncos win 1+ of their last 2 games, EXCEPT if Denver wins one game and loses one game and Kansas City also finishes 9-7.

That last, 2(v), requires some explanation. Tennessee would finish behind Denver in a head-to-head race for the wild card, because the Broncos have a better conference record. But, when looking at multiple teams, you first eliminate division opponents. Kansas City finishes ahead of Denver in this scenario, thank to a better division record. The Titans would have the tiebreaker edge on KC, though, because of an edge in strength of victory.

From the Titans' playoff perspective, the most important game remaining is next week's tilt between Denver and Cincinnati. The winner of the game will have the edge on the Titans (unless it's Denver, who then loses to San Francisco, while KC wins out). There hasn't been a tie in the NFL since Pittsburgh and Atlanta played to a 34-all deadlock in 2002, but if you want to see the Titans make the playoffs, that's precisely what you're hoping for this Sunday in the Mile High City.

So, here's a rooting guide.
Week 16
TEN over BUF
KC over OAK
NE over JAX
BAL over PIT
DEN over CIN
MIA over NYJ

Week 17
TEN over NE
PIT over CIN
KC over JAX
OAK over NYJ
SF over DEN

I know it will be difficult to root for teams like the Patriots, Ravens, and Steelers, but the Titans' quest for Miami demands it.

Thanks to my fellow Football Outsiders chat participants for helping me work through the scenarios, particularly Travis for pointing out KC-Denver.

UPDATE (12/19, 1818 CT): Ok, there are more scenarios where the Titans can make the playoffs. Here's how the Titans would fare in each combination of 9-7 teams:

Any scenario + JAX: Unchanged from Titans' perspective, since JAX finishes behind TEN based on division record and division tiebreaker is applied first

NYJ, TEN: NYJ finishes ahead of TEN on head-to-head
CIN, TEN: CIN finishes ahead of TEN on conference record
PIT, TEN: PIT finishes ahead of TEN on common opponents
DEN, TEN: DEN finished ahead of TEN on conference record
K C, TEN: TEN finishes ahead of KC on conference record

NYJ, CIN, TEN: CIN finishes first on conference record, NYJ finishes second on H2H
NYJ, PIT, TEN: TEN finishes first on strength of victory
NYJ, DEN, TEN: DEN finishes first on conference record, NYJ finishes second on H2H
NYJ, K C, TEN: KC eliminated on conference record, NYJ finishes first on H2H, TEN finishes second

CIN, PIT, TEN: CIN eliminates PIT in division tiebreaker, PIT second on common opponents
CIN, DEN, TEN: DEN/CIN eliminate TEN on conference record, CIN/DEN H2H winner finishes first, CIN/DEN H2H loser finishes second
CIN, K C, TEN: CIN finishes first on conference record, TEN finishes second

PIT, DEN, TEN: DEN finishes first on conference record, PIT second on common opponents
PIT, K C, TEN: PIT/TEN eliminate KC on conference record, PIT finishes first, TEN finishes second on conference opponents

DEN, K C, TEN: KC eliminates DEN on division record, TEN finishes ahead of KC on conference record

NYJ, CIN, PIT, TEN: CIN eliminates PIT, CIN finishes first on conference record, TEN finishes second on strength of victory over NYJ and PIT
NYJ, CIN, DEN, TEN: CIN and DEN finish 1/2 on conference record, NYJ finishes 3rd
NYJ, CIN, K C, TEN: CIN finishes first on conference record, NYJ/TEN eliminate KC on conference record, NYJ second based on H2H over TEN
NYJ, DEN, K C, TEN: KC eliminates DEN in division tiebreaker, KC eliminated on conference record, NYJ finishes first, ahead of TEN on H2H, TEN finishes 2nd

CIN, PIT, DEN, TEN: CIN eliminates PIT in division tiebreaker, DEN/CIN eliminate TEN on conference record, CIN/DEN H2H winner finishes first, CIN/DEN H2H loser finishes second, PIT third, TEN fourth
CIN, PIT, K C, TEN: CIN eliminates PIT in division tiebreaker, CIN first on conference record, KC eliminated on conference record, PIT second, TEN third
PIT, DEN, K C, TEN: KC eliminates DEN in division tiebreaker, PIT/TEN eliminate KC on conference record, PIT first, TEN second

NYJ, CIN, PIT, DEN, K C, TEN: Oh. CIN eliminates PIT and KC eliminates DEN on division tiebreaker. CIN first on conference record, NYJ/TEN/PIT eliminate KC on conference record, TEN wins on strength of victory

AND I think that's all the independent scenarios. I'll review this post later to make sure I've covered everything.

UPDATE #2 (12-20, 1305 CT): I think I got all the independent scenarios. Remember, if DEN and KC both finish 9-7, KC wins on division tiebreaker, so look at the same scenario -DEN. If PIT and CIN both finish 9-7, CIN wins on division tiebreaker, so look at the same scenario -PIT.

I still think my rooting guide is pretty good, but may be really obsessive and plot out the easiest way to reach a Titans playoff scenario. Oh, and if 2 AFC non-division winners finish 10-6, the Titans can't make the playoffs and all of this is moot.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blog Maintenance

Added some bookmarks to the left side. Work in progress and all that stuff.

Upon Further Review: TEN@HOU

A little later than I would have liked, but the PBP breakdown is done. I hope to add a passing chart Sunday morning.

T32110Trips RightPass1YoungScramble
Play-action to Henry followed by a bootleg. Mario Williams gets past Hartsock on the contain, and Greenwood and Orr were also in pursuit. Because Williams beat Hartsock, VY never had time to get his feet set, and the play was strung outside. Can't tell from the TV coverage if there was someone open downfield.
T33293-WR, Slot StrongPassIncYoungOut & Up
Kind of a weird motion here, almost like a rollout into the pocket, followed by a scramble left. Bennett started out left, ran an out and up. He was open, but VY had to buy time to set and throw. Pass isn't thrown in stride, Bennett has to stop, but it hits him in the chest 51 yards downfield and he drops it. Slight demerit to VY, BIG demerit to Bennett.
T3339Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WRPass6ScaifeDumpoff
Scaife lines up in the backfield, unusual to see, and VY dumps it off to him. Henry on the left side might have been a better place to throw the ball than Scaife. Texans converge and stop Scaife short of the first down. (CA)
Drive Notes: The drop by Bennett is a big play. Maybe if they get this and get on the board, this game turns into a different sort of contest. Not being able to see what happened downfield, it's impossible to evaluate the third down play. NFL, please start selling all-22 footage. I don't care if I have to wait to the offseason and it costs $20/game.
T22110Standard 2-TERun8HenryOff Tackle
Williams lined up in the neutral zone, which is just an incredibly stupid penalty. You're a DE, look down the line and line up behind the ball. But noo, his hand is behind where the ball is. Titans fooled both me and the Texans on this play-they brought Brandon Jones in motion and they normally run right behind him and Stewart. But they gave it to Henry left tackle and he got a good 8-yard gain. Scaife was able to occupy Mario Williams. Fisher accepts the penalty, which is probably the same thing I would have done.
T27153-WR, Slot StrongRun7HenryIso
Pacman in the slot, same as where he's been before. They fake the end around to him and run Henry up the gut. Bell and Olson do a good job of sealing the middle and Mawae does a number on MLB Ryans. Good power running to take advantage of the misdirection.
T34110Weak IPass25-FumbleHallScreen
Hall's job is to chip DE Babin, then take the delayed screen. Pass is maybe a little early, Babin almost makes the tackle. Hall is able to escape and get good yardage downfield. Roos and Mawae both have good blocks downfield. But, Greenwood is able to come up on Hall from behind and knock the ball out. Texans recover, and what was a promising gain is now a change of possession.
Drive Notes: Ball security is something you always worry about with players that don't run the ball very often. Hall seemed to have fairly decent technique, but he has to be alert to the possibility of a hand coming in. Greenwood made a good play, don't get me wrong, but you'd like to think good plays don't always result in turnovers.
T31110Base IRun1HenryIso
Iso is sort of my default name for running plays between the tackles. This run by Henry goes right at Left Tackle. Texans bring an 8th into the box late, and that 8th, SS Glenn Earl, fills the hole to stop Henry for no gain.
T3229Standard 2-TERun9HenryOff Tackle
There's a gargantuan hole here as Olson, Stewart, Bennett, and the TE (Scaife, I think) all nail their blocks. Henry's through to the second level untouched. This is a place you and I could get 5-6 yards on.
T41110Standard 2-TEPass2ScaifeWaggle(?)
I don't understand why this is isn't illegal formation, as Bennett appeared to be covering Scaife on the left side. This is probably supposed to be a waggle play, with VY on the bootleg, but Orr's blitz forces an early throw to the short outlet Scaife. S Brown makes a good play to come up in coverage and tackle Scaife after only about 3 yards. (CA)
T43282-TE StrongRun6HenryIso
T4328Penalty-10StewartIllegal Use of Hands
Good blocking up the middle, except that Stewart got his hands up on Ryans for the penalty. Telling point: Cramer is left one-on-one on Williams. If Williams beats him, he's shoved back into the hole and Henry doesn't get anything. But, Cramer does a good job on him and Henry picks up 6 yards.
Titans come up in a really wide 4-WR set, trying to spread out the Texans D. Texans come up with zone blitz, dropping Williams into coverage and bringing an LB and a safety. But the quick pass to Wade goes to the other side and he's able to get almost 15 YAC and turn 2 and long into 3rd and short. (CA)
T4932Strong I, 2-TEPass(?)24YoungFlea-Flicker(?)
I think this was supposed to be a flea-flicker. Handoff was to Henry, toss back to VY. But the Texans are able to come up in good pursuit, and VY has to run around to make a play. Which, y'know, is what VY is good at and teams try to prevent him from doing. Kudos to VY for stepping out of bounds rather thank taking a stupid hit.
H27110Trips RightRun2HenryIso
I hate this playcall. If you want to run up the middle and show a passing formation, set it up so that the defenders looking pass won't be able to flow quickly to the hole. Texans LB all read and react to the running play, don't bother playing trips.
H2528Trips RightPass2CramerFlat
Yep, same formation two plays in a row. Cramer runs a pretty simple flat route. The key to YAC on this play is for the WR to serve as a screen, but Robinson is able to release off Jones and Cramer gets maybe half a yard after he makes the catch. (CA)
H2336Base IPassIncBennettStop Route
Pretty vanilla formation for 3rd and long. The play is a simple timing route, Bennett is supposed to run a stop 15 yards downfield. Then, he's supposed to catch the ball as it hits him in the chest. Pass wasn't quite in the chest, but it was catchable. (DO)
Drive Notes: Missed block + drop = FG try, which Bironas makes for a 3-0 lead. Still, these last two plays are an example of Titan WR failures. The only WR with a particularly noteworthy positive play on the drive is Wade, who is productive in space. Only in space, but that's at least something.
T20110Standard 2-TEPass29BennettDeep Out
Texans bring 6, but the Titans pick it up with 6. VY has time to throw and steps up to make a good throw on a deep out to Bennett. There wasn't much of a window to put this ball in where Robinson can't make a play on it, and VY found it. Plus, Bennett caught it. (DO)
T49110Shotgun StrongPassIncJonesPost
T49110Penalty34HST-30-J.SimmonsPass Interference
Rollout, giving VY time to set his feet and fire the ball down the field. It's a pretty good throw, I think, Jones had a good chance to catch it, but he bumps into Simmons. Simmons isn't looking back for the ball, but Jones is. I'd guess that's why DPI gets called. This was a late flag, but Simmons did give him a little arm bar. Cheap call, but not totally phantom.
H17110I-Formation, 2-WR WeakRun(?)1Pacman JonesScramble(?)
Pacman lines up as the I-back(!) and takes a pitch. Roby fakes the reverse. Pacman looks like he may want to throw Bennett downfield, but the Texans have this one well-covered, at least on Pacman. He reverses field and eventually runs about 30 yards to pick up 1.
H1629Standard 2-TERun2BrownIso
Let's put Chris Brown on a power run up the middle. Then, after he doesn't do anything because that's what he sucks at, we can put him back on the bench when White is healthy! Mario Williams gets a token tackle after releasing off Roos's block.
H1437Shotgun Trips RightPassIncJonesOut
Jones runs a basic 10 yard out out of the trips, and Faggins makes a good play in pass defense to jump the route and bat the ball away. Maybe this throw is fodder for those who argue Young doesn't have a gun, but I think this happens to any QB.
Drive Notes: This drive is a good example of why Football Outsiders writes that you pass to take the lead. 2 big pass plays, the one to Bennett and the DPI on the ball to Jones, and the Titans have 61 of their 66 yards on the drive. Anyway, Bironas hits the FG and the Titans are up 6-0.
T30110Standard 2-TERun-2HenryCounter
Looks like another off tackle right play, but instead it's a counter. Mario Williams loses contain, but Robinson comes up and makes a good tackle.
Titans come up with a great playcall, spread 'em out wide like on the pass to Wade earlier and hit them with the screen to Henry. This play looked like a sure first down, but VY puts it too far for Henry. (IN)
T28312Shotgun StrongPass8YoungScramble
Texans only rush 2, leaving nobody open downfield. VY takes off and tries to get the first down, but Simmons has good position and tackles him well short of the first down.
Drive Notes: 2 rushers. 2! I can't get over that. Texans D made some good plays here, and the miss on the screen really hurts
T311103-WR, Slot WeakPassIncScaifeQuick Out
Scaife runs a little out from his TE position, but VY's throw is a little high and Bo can't come down with the ball. Ball is still catchable, but (IN) grade is deserving to reflect VY's overall pass performance.
T31210Shotgun 4-WRPass4BennettQuick Out
Same spread the field formation, but a different play this time. Bennett runs a quick out from the slot while Roby runs a slant. Designed to create some possible confusion, it does nothing of the sort and Bennett is tackled by Robinson, who stayed outside, for no YAC.
T3536Penalty5HST-23-D.RobinsonDef. Holding
Bennett runs a 15 yard in from the slot, Faggins makes a play to break up the ball. Pass may have been a little behind. Faggins may have committed pass interference. The call on Robinson is weird, because you see a flag thrown as Faggins goes up and makes the play on the ball. I don't see Robinson, so I can't tell if he did anything or not. Call may be on Faggins for D-holding, as he may have had a grab on Bennett as he tried to make his break before Young threw the ball.
T40110Weak IRun-1HenryIso
Henry with the quite cleaver "fall down" technique. Looks like a move left tackle, followed by a cut off right tackle. Too bad, as Hall had contain on Williams off right.
T39211Base IPass15BennettIn(?)
VY with time to throw and scrambles forward, finds Bennett open 15 yards down the middle of the field.
H46110Weak IRun5HenryIso
Nice hole on the left side. Henry runs into Bell, who is blocking Ryans, and falls down more than he's actually tackled by the Texans, else this play gets a couple more yards.
H41253-WR, Slot StrongPass-9YoungSack
Titans burn a TO, called from the sidelines, to avoid another illegal formation penalty, as a WR is not on the line AGAIN (couldn't tell who-Roby?). Titans have the play blocked, but Peek stunts and Bell can't keep inside contain. Sure, maybe VY should have gotten rid of the ball. But without the blown protection, he has more time to buy a play. I can't blame him for this one.
VY on the rollout, doesn't see anybody open, picks up a couple yards rather than take a risk. My guess is Fisher told him not to make a mistake here, and he didn't.
Drive Notes: You like to get points when you can, and VY has been effective in the 2-minute drill this season. But, down 7-6, Fisher didn't want to lose the game in the first half. If Bell doesn't blow his block, maybe this drive results in a score. And if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.
T31110Base IPass11BennettOut
Texans blitz but stunt, Titans pick up the rushers. Bennett runs a 9 yard out, and VY hits him. (CA)
T42110Weak IPass18JonesCurl
VY stands tall in the pocket and hits Jones 15 yards downfield on a comeback for a nice gain. (CA)
Titans really spread the field with 5 pass catchers. Texans bring 6, 6>5, but VY gets a quick throw off to Hartsock, who picks up a couple YAC. Ideally, you'd like to see the ball thrown to somebody more, ah, mobile than Hartsock, but between throwing the ball and picking up some yards, and eating the ball on a sack, no reason to complain too loudly.
H3121Base IRun-1HallFB Blast
Supposed to be a quick hitter left to Hall, but a Texans DT, probably Dalton, pushed Bell back, Hall ran into him, and 2&1 becomes 3&2.
H3232I-Formation, 2-TE StrongRun14HenryIso
H3232Penalty-5Stewart/Illegal Formation
Henry up the middle for a couple yards, then runs through a couple arm tackles and bounces out for an extra dozen yards. The Illegal Formation came because the refs are BLIND. Hartsock was covering Stewart, which is perfectly legal. Only possible explanation is they called #76 instead of #71 by mistake, but Bennett wasn't lined up far enough for that to get called most times. This looks an awful lot like the refs costing the Titans points.
H3737Strong IPassIncRobyPost
Texans blitz with S Earl, but Henry gets a block. VY finds Roby 30 yards downfield, but Faggins makes a good play on the ball. Faggins gets away with a hand check-type move, but nothing serious. A perfect throw probably results in a TD. (CA)
Drive Notes: Pass, pass, pass the ball down the field. The penalty hurt, but I have to give the Texans some credit, as they made the plays on both 2&1 and 3&7. You'd like to score points any drive, but this is more important because the Texans had just taken a 14-6 lead.
T37110Base IRun3HenryIso
Anthony Weaver mucked up this run, and Bell didn't get a good seal either. Not a bad run, just not great.
T4027Weak IPass39BennettFlag
NFL truism: "Good coverage doesn't beat better throws." Great pocket, VY has time to survey the field and flings the ball 35 yards downfield to Bennett. Robinson was right with him, no separation at all, but the throw went over the top and Bennett snagged it for a big gain. (DO)
Titans spread them out again, but this time with Henry in the backfield instead of a TE on the line. Texans only rush 4, VY takes a checkdown for a decent gain on first down. (CA)
H1524Standard 2-TERun6HenryStretch
This wasn't exactly how you draw a stretch play up, but Henry finds a lane and picks up the first down. Roydell Williams was the WR playside, and he ran up to block the second level rather than just blocking the CB. From the way he did it, it was probably his assignment, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.
H919Base IRun9-TDHenryIso
It's so nice to see another team's defensive players blow contain. Henry's run is supposed to be at left tackle, but Faggins loses outside contain badly.
Drive Notes: Big pass play to move the ball downfield, good power running in the Red Zone. It's easy to be happy with this drive. Titans down 14-13 after Fisher kicks the PAT. According to William Krasker's calculations, it makes sense to go for 2 down 2 with 17 minutes to play even if your confidence in converting is as low as ~23%. In other words, this decision was DUMB. I'm normally a big proponent of not going for it before the 4th quarter, but it made a lot of sense to go for 2 there. Why I hate NFL passer rating, in a nutshell: 13/19, 176, 0/0 = 97.7, 11/13, 95, 0/0=97.1. An extra 2 YPA is apparently worth 0.6 points. Yippee!
T24110Standard 2-TERun7HenryIso
At right tackle. Henry cuts it back inside and picks up a few yards.
T3123Base IPassIncHallScreen
Nice fake of a stretch playing to set up a throwback screen. Hall stumbled try to get into position and didn't seem to be able to recover. Ball was there, he just didn't catch it. (CA, DO)
T31333-WR, Slot StrongPassINTBennettIn
Another slip play, as VY takes a tumble while he's rolling. Brown is coming after him on the blitz, and he tries to get off a throw to Bennett. The throw is a little too far inside, and Faggins makes a better play on it than Bennett does. (IN)
Drive Notes: Sometimes you just need to take the sack. Just a bad throw to make.
T12110Base IRun1HenryIso
Generic I-form run.
T1329Shotgun 4-WRRun7HenryDraw
Spread 'em out, suck 'em upfield, and hit them with the draw. Criqui calls it an "interesting playcall," but this is just spread 'em out and smack 'em.
T2032Weak I, 2-TERun3YoungQB Sweep
Designed run for VY, or VY just took it and ran with it. Kind of like a Tebow-style power run behind the FB and RB. If Travis Henry was a capable FB, this play could have gotten more yardage.
T23110Base IPass3HallDumpoff
VY doesn't seem to see anything he likes deep, so he moves up in the pocket and dumps it off to Hall. Throw is pretty high, and Hall has to make a good catch to snag it. The grading scale is harder on throws 2 yards downfield-if he puts in a better place, maybe Hall can break the tackle and pick up more YAC. (IN)
Basic power run. The whole right side just creates a lane and Henry runs through a couple arm tackles to pick up the first down.
T34110Weak IPass15BennettCurl
VY hits Bennett on a comeback with a nice throw. (CA)
T49110Trips RightPassIncHartsockPost
Hartsock comes out of trips and runs an 8 yard post. VY is looking right, throws to Hartsock as his second option. Dangerous throw, and LB Anderson bats the ball in the air where it thankfully falls harmlessly to the ground. Cramer, the first option, would have been a safer throw.
I think this was supposed to be a screen, but the play wasn't set up very well. Ryans(?) was spying Henry, and he almost had Travis tackled for about a 5 yard loss. He at least slowed him up enough for the backside pursuit (Jason Babin sighting!) to stop Henry for little gain.
5039Base ShotgunPass15JonesOut
This play was too easy. Wynn plays off Jones covering deep, and VY hits him on the out. Titans brought 5, but 7 stayed in to protect. Nice grab by Jones on a high throw. (CA)
H35110Standard 2-TERun21BrownStretch
Hmm, Brown isn't a great power runner but has pretty good speed. Hmm, maybe we should run him outside for a change? Hartsock has a seal, Stewart's at the second level, Brown gets to just run past people, and it's a big gainer.
H14110Strong IPass-9YoungSack
Kalu just stays at home on the playfake and when VY boots back to his side, Kalu is right there. Thankfully, VY doesn't do anything stupid with the football.
H23219Weak IRun15HenryIso
Football can be a simple game. Glenn Earl is in the hole for the Texans, and he doesn't tackle Henry, turning a 3 yard gain into 15.
H834Shotgun Split BacksPass5YoungScramble
Simple math: Texans bring 7 guys from the inside, Titans have 6 blockers, VY runs outside. Outside contain: it's just a myth!
H31GStandard 2-TERun1HenryIso
"Slant Power Run Left" if you prefer Criqui's description. Iso is a generic run between the tackles. Dalton made this play by getting backfield penetration to slow Henry.
H22GWeak IRun2-TDHenryIso
Ryans(?) misreads the whole a little, can't get to fill the whole in time. Mawae with a good block on Dalton.
Drive Notes: (i) Please stop having 15 play drives. I just HATE to do UFR on them. (ii) It's easier to accept when you score a TD to go up 20-17. Aside from that, not much to complain about this drive. Good mix of run and pass, three third down plays but two of them were short (4, 2).
T40110Weak IRun1HenryStretch
It amuses me that Hall moves weakside to block Mario Williams on his own. Texans D was slanted playside and filled the gaps well, leaving Henry without much running room.
Weaver beats Stewart and gets to VY while he was throwing. Ball comes out like a wounded duck, else Brown may have been able to pick up a few yards. (PR)
T4139Base ShotgunPass7WadeIn
A quick 7 yard in, with the hope of beating the man in coverage. Except when the opposing team drops 9, as the Texans did, they're able to cover people and quickly converge. (CA)
Drive Notes: Jeff Fisher apparently liked the strategy he employed against the Colts in the endgame so much he decided to use it again. I guess somebody forgot to tell him Peyton Manning's not playing for the Texans, and Carr's not exactly Peyton Manning. AKA yes, I thought Fisher was way too conservative here.
T43110Standard 2-TERun1HenryStretch
8 in the box = running lanes outside. If your back is quick enough to get there. Which Henry isn't. Ryans is the one guy playing a couple yards off the line of scrimmage, and he gets to the hole before Henry does.
T4429Weak IPassIncBennettPost-Corner
T4429Penalty5HST-26-G.EarlDef. Holding
Bennett is ahead of Robinson on a double-move, so he grabs onto his jersey. Penalty is on Robinson, not Earl. Pass doesn't look that great, but if Bennett doesn't get held, he has a good shot of getting there. (CA)
T49110Weak IRun16BrownIso
This is the kind of run I hate to see Brown on. But Earl comes from the outside on a safety blitz, and takes himself out of the play. Nice of him to do that for his high school teammate (Naperville (IL) North), but a dumb football move. Brown takes advantage of not being touched and runs for good yardage.
H351102-TE StrongRun4BrownOff Tackle
Maybe I should call this an Iso, but Brown is able to get a quick bounce to the outside. This is where he should be most productive, and where I like him best, but his indecisiveness shows up. Rather than run for the corner, he looks up, runs more straight upfield, and gets tackled for only 4 or so.
H45120Weak IRun5BrownIso
Same sort of play as the previous one. Again, Brown doesn't show the burst through to the outside but instead turns it up the field and only picks up 5. This actually gets into Mike Tanier's great column on RB yard distribution. The difference between Henry and Brown is in part because Henry gets lots more 10+ gains. Brown's actions the last two plays help demonstrate just why that is.
H40215Weak I, 2-TEPass1HallFlat
I don't understand what this play was supposed to do. Texans had a blitz on, which probably disrupted it. VY looked at Hall, though twice, then dumped it off to Hall. Wynn did a good job to wrap him up for no extra yardage.
H39314Base ShotgunPass39-TDYoungScramble
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Texans bring 6, plus Ryans on a delay, while the Titans only have 6 back. Ryans fill a lane, but not the one created by Brown taking out blitzing LB Greenwood, VY takes off, Roby with a good block downfield, TD, game over, Titans win.
Drive Notes: Uh, good players can make up for a lot of errors.

Passing chart and WR breakdown likely to come.

Friday, December 15, 2006

UFR-Formation Explanation

In the "Upon Further Review" posts, you see under the "Formation" category, things like "Weak I," "Shotgun," "Shotgun Split Backs," and "Standard 2-TE." What do these things mean? In this post, I hope to describe what I mean when I use some of the most-common formation names.

A very basic offensive set. The team lines up with 2 running backs lined up directly behind the quarterback: one fullback perhaps 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage yards back and a halfback 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. In a "base I," there are 2 WRs, one on each side of the offensive line, and a TE.
Weak I and Strong I
In a Weak I, the fullback is not directly behind the quarterback, but is instead offset to one side or the other. In a "Strong I", the FB is offset to the side where the TE is lined up; in a "Weak I," he's on the opposite side.
2-WR Weak and 2-WR Strong
Rather than being lined up one on each side, both of the WRs are lined up on the same side of the offensive line. I will also use "2-WR Right" or "Left" on a 2-TE set when there is no "strong" or "weak" side.
Standard 2-TE
2 TEs, 2 WRs, and 1 RB are in the game. Both TEs are lined up to the outside of the offensive tackle on the line of scrimmage.
Split Backs or Pro Set
Split Backs is the main alternative to the I-Formation. When backs are split, they're lined up next to each other, normally about 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The "Pro Set" is a specific type of Split Backs formation with 2 WRs, one on each side, and a TE.
I need to clarify here. By "Shotgun" by itself, I mean the team is in the base shotgun formation, with 3 WRs, 1 RB, 1 TE. 2 WRs are to one side and 1 WR and the TE are on the other side. In "Shotgun Strong," the slot WR is on the same side as the TE. I will also use "Shotgun" as a marker for other formations run where the QB is in the shotgun. A "Shotgun Split Backs" formation looks like "Split Backs," except that the QB is lined up between the 2 RBs.
3-WR, Slot Strong
A formation with 3 WRs, 2 to one side and 1 to the other. If the 2 are to the same side as the TE, it's "Slot Strong," else "Slot Weak."
4-WR Close
4 players are standing up at the line of scrimmage. Normally, this formation goes OT, Slot WR, FL on the line, with little if any spacing between them. Frequently, this play doesn't involve 4 WRs, but instead 2 TEs and 2 WRs. I call it "4-WR Close" because it's more easily recognizable to me. If the 4 WRs are spread out, then it's just "4-WR."

CLARIFICATION: I'm considering calling what I now call "Shotgun" "Base Shotgun." This would make "Shotgun Strong" "Strong Shotgun," and "Shotgun" by itself at the start of a formation description would just indicate the QB is in shotgun. I believe this would resolve any confusion. I'll play around with it and see what I think.

Content Update

I have begun importing football-related posts from The Other Blog over here. Post will retain their original date, though I'm not quite anal enough to put the proper timestamp on as well. On the UFR issue, I have charted the first half of last Sunday's Titans-Texans game and anticipate having the entire breakdown up tomorrow. If time permits, I will fill in the missing holes in the Colts game (i.e., the second quarter), and may begin to break down the rest of the Giants game and the Eagles game as well. I was going to leave the Eagles game along, but Merrill Hoge's claim "That Philadelphia game might have been the poorest performance I have seen by a quarterback all year" surprised me. My suspicion is that's largely analyst hyperbole, but I want to know just how poorly VY did.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Upon Further Review: IND@TEN

Upon Further Review, for the Dec. 3, 2006 game between Tennessee and Indianapolis, won 20-17 by the Titans on a last-minute field goal by Rob Bironas.

T29110Weak IRun7HenryCounter Off Tackle
Colts RDE Mathis came crashing down the line, totally taking himself out of the play. This play is a good example of using a defense's known habits against it, and also fun to see as a Titans fan. Because y'know, opposing teams have NEVER gotten big plays because Titan DEs have overpursued.
T36232-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakRun8HenryIso
Good lane between Stewart and Olson on one side and Hartsock and Scaife on the other.
I don't understand this playcall. The basic theory is to spread the D out, then do a power run. But you can overwhelm the Colts at the point of attack, as the Titans did the two previous plays. Here, the LBs at the second level have time to read the play and shoot the gap. Tackle is actually made by Freeney, whom Roos bumped and then released to get to the second level-giving Freeney time to shoot down the line to fill the hole.
T45293-WR, 2 StrongPass4HenryScreen
Kind of a basic screen play. Colts seemed to be playing a zone, not rushing, so D was able to converge relatively quickly and outnumber the blockers (CA).
T4935Split Backs, 3-WRPassIncJonesIn
Jones runs a 12 yard in route, plenty for the first down, but VY's throw goes high (IN). Freeney is successful with a spin move on Roos, which may have rushed the throw a little.
Drive Notes: The key to winning games is converting on 3rd down to keep drives alive. Winning quarterbacks make this throw-VY made this throw last week. This won't be the first drive with a mix of playcalls I like and those I don't.
T481102-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakPass16HartsockWaggle
Thomas did a good job to stay at home on Hartsock, but when VY booted that way, he released Hartsock to pursue VY. VY smartly dumped it to Hartsock, who avoided a couple (lousy attempts at) tackles and picked up 18 YAC.
I36110Weak IPassINTJonesGo-Post(?)
Jones runs a sort of fly pattern that makes a sort of turn for the post late-not sure exactly what the route was supposed to be. Pass is either overthrown or Jones didn't expect it to go as far, as he ends up failing to make a catch and gets unlucky, tipping the ball to David for the INT in the end zone. Fisher challenged this play, and it's possible David didn't maintain full possession of the ball as he went to the ground. But there's no camera angle that could possibly have shown that.
Drive Notes: TOs=points. I'm still split on whether Jones or VY is at fault for this INT, but when you have chances against the Colts, you can't just give the ball back.
T27110Pro SetRun0HenryDraw
This is another playcall I don't understand. I know you're expecting the Colts DEs to move too deep, but the handoff is too deep, allowing the Colts to get to and fill the holes. Maybe Henry gets a couple more yards if Hall gets the block on Gardner from the weakside, but that wouldn't make me like this play.
See, just a back I-formation HB run. Scaife with a block on DE Mathis, Hall hits the LB covering the hole, and Henry turns 2nd and long into 3rd and short.
T34332-TE, 3-WRPass0YoungScramble
Another odd formation, presumably designed to induce coverage mismatches. Titans should have great protection, with only 4 guys rushing and 6 in, but it kind of breaks down. I expect this was supposed to be a quick pass play, but that didn't work out because nobody was open. So, VY did what VY does. I (heart) VY.
T39110I-Formation, 2-TEPenalty-5RoosFalse Start
Pacman lined up slot right, so if you're going to give to Henry, you move the line left and let Henry run right, between the crashing line and the DE covering for Pacman. Except Henry runs left, where there's no room. He tries a pitchback to VY, akin to the toss to Scaife v. BAL, but forward progress had been ruled.
Quick slant, thrown in a good place for Jones to grab it, but he seemed to alligator arm it fearing a hit from Harper. Catch the danged ball!
T34315Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WRPassIncJonesPost
VY tries to hit Jones on a post pattern 25 yards downfield, but skies the ball. Sanders probably hits Jones a little early, but the pass is too high and wouldn't have been completed even if Sanders hadn't been around. (IN)
Drive Notes: Punt. See above re VY and converting on 3rd down. This was not an impressive first quarter for the Titans rookie QB throwing the ball.
T23110Standard 2-TERun5WhiteIso
Good run on first down for the Titans. Play went right, with blocking going left, looked like a read for White as to whether to go up the middle left or up the middle right. Colts' LDE totally took himself out of the play, thankfully taking away White's option of bouncing it outside.
May I just say how much I hate it when the TV crews aren't kind enough to show us the formation? This was a run up the middle that didn't go very far.
T3033Strong I, 2-WR WeakPass4YoungScramble
It looks like VY has only one quick read on this play, to Scaife running an short out, then has to wait for Hall(?) to slip out of the backfield. Both are covered (and near each other), so VY spots a lane up the middle and takes off. Bad play, good scramble. (SCR)
T34110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun26WhiteIso
When longtime AL pitcher Bruce Hurst joined the San Diego Padres in 1989 and got to bat, he had a hard time at first. Then after, 20 or 30-something at bats, he finally got his first major league hit. When the reporters asked him about it, he said, "Even a blind dog sometimes finds a bone." See White, Lendale, trying out bounce outside runs up the middle. This was a good play, but it was disappointing to see. It looked like there was a lane there where he could have gotten 5-6 yards, for sure. Normally, that's the better decision for a back with White's skillset (assuming "avoiding contact at all costs" isn't part of his skillset). This play worked because the Colts OLB, I think Brackett, overpursued.
I401102-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakRun4HenryRight Tackle
Blah, short run strong/right side.
I3626I-FormationPassIncRobyQuick Hitch
VY tries for the quick throw to Roby split out left. This seems like a weird playcall to me, because (1) Roby isn't the sort of deep threat you need to play off of, (2) the Colts CB WAS in fact playing up on Roby, and (3) after 4 of 5 runs, I'd be expecting a pass. Maybe not as quick as this one, but still expected. Gilbert Gardner jumped up and deflected the ball away well before it got to Roby. (CA), I guess.
I3636Shotgun StrongPass7YoungScramble
The Colts run a stunt, and though they only bring 4, they're able to get good pressure on VY pretty quickly. So, VY does what VY does, and takes off. Encouraging to see, he keeps his head up and his arm in a position where he could throw the ball, until he makes the decision that he is going to run with the ball. Again, VY makes a play that keeps the drive alive. (SCR)
I29110Shotgun PacmanPass17Pacman Jones_______
VY in the gun with White next to him, Pacman nearly as deep off the line, to VY's right. It's a quick pass to Pacman that goes marginally forward, and he just darts forward. Bob Sanders should have him after a couple yards, but he just runs past him. (CA)
I12110Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WRPass2WhiteShovel
The rare Titans formation without a TE in it. VY moves right, like it's a run with a pass option, then flicks the shovel pass forward to White. There's not much room up the middle, but he is able to pick up a couple yards. (CA)
I1028Shotgun Trips WeakRun2WhiteDraw-ish
This looks like it was some sort of read play. VY sort of moved to his right to hand White the ball, but in a funky manner. White hits a bad piece of turf (maybe) or trips over his own feet (more likely), and falls forward for a couple yards when he should have more. The ball comes out when he hits the turf, which is a fumble because he hasn't been touched by a Colt yet.
I836Shotgun 3-WR WeakRun1HenryDraw-ish
So, after White falls over his own feet, they run the same play with Henry. Weird call on 3rd down from inside the 10, in my opinion, and a pretty conservative one. The Colts D doesn't completely fall apart this play, so the Titans end up with 4th down.
Drive Notes: Have I mentioned VY is awesome? Two 3rd down conversions, both of them on scrambles. Only two plays good enough to get a first down on their own, and no conversions on second down. It's tough to cavil too much about a drive that results in much-needed points, but this wasn't a very good drive. A TD would have been nice, but 14-3 is better than 14-0.
I42110Weak IPass1HenryDumpoff
VY dumps it off to Henry. Some pressure, enough to force a decision. No clue if anything was open downfield. (CA)
I4129Shotgun StrongPass21RobyGo
VY does a little in-pocket roll, then finds Roby down the left sideline. Ball is over David's ahead, and for some reason the safety, Jackson, is like 30 yards off the line of scrimmage. Since the Titans have TOs and can throw the ball wherever they want, that seems like an odd strategy to me. Pass was decent, not great, so (CA). This play was reviewed by the booth, and was indeed a catch.
I201103-WR, 2-WR WeakPass20-TDBennettSeam
One of the few times you don't see Bennett split out wide, as he's in the slot to the left side. VY acts like he's looking right, then whirls around and throws one to Bennett. It looked like it was designed that way, and could make for a risky play. This was another play that was reviewed, to see whether Bennett made it into the end zone. I thought he did, but I'm a Titans fan. For the record, David hit Bennett a little too early this play. (CA)
Drive Notes: Bulluck had a great INT, and it was nice to turn that into points. 14-10 at the half is a lot better than the 14-0 it was at the 2 minute warning. Oh, and teams that pass the ball successfully tend to do well. That's why this is a drive I like, and the previous play wasn't. And it's not just the results.
T31110I-Formation, 2-TERun2HenryOff Tackle
Colts read this play before it was snapped, and strung the play down the line. Henry did well to get back to the line of scrimmage, let alone pick up 2.
T3328Standard 2-TERun5HenryIso
Henry up the middle for a couple, between Olson and Stewart.
T3833Shotgun Split BacksPass6HallShort Post
VY in the shotgun, reads the D easily, see Hall just run out and then hit the middle. You don't often see 5 yard post patterns, but this was one of them. (CA)
T441102-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakPass20ScaifeFlag
Play-action, but VY just rolls back into the pocket. Scaife has the corner on Harper, and VY hits him in the hands (DO).
I36110I-Formation, 2-WR WeakRun1HenryIso
There were 9(!) Colts within 4 yards of the line of scrimmage, weighted playside. This play didn't have a chance. This is where having a speedy guy at TB would be useful-run the play to the opposite side instead and you could pick up good yardage. But, Henry isn't that guy.
I3529Shotgun 2-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakPassIncHartsockSeam
Not a formation you've seen the Titans run a lot from the shotgun. Hartsock is open on the seam route 20 yards downfield, but VY throws the ball over his head. Just a bad throw, no two ways to spin it. (IN)
Neither Roos nor Stewart excelled on this play, as DEs Freeney and Mathis met 8 yards upfield at VY. But by coming upfield from the outside, they left big lanes for VY to run through. VY makes a move on June near the first down line to get the play, and it's just watching #10 run.
I17110ShotgunRun2YoungRead Option
Well, the Colts did a better job of defending this play than they did the first game. VY makes the proper read, but the blocking isn't that great.
I1528I-Formation, 2-WR WeakPassINTScaifeSeam
Scaife runs up the field and VY hits him in the hands... Except he didn't see Marlin Jackson, who had an easy interception. Bad read by VY. (BR)
Drive Notes: TOs=points. VY made a bad read, and cost his team. It's easier to forgive these mistakes when you win the game, but this wasn't a good play. 5 called passes on this drive, and somebody screwed up on 3 of them. At least the 2 on 3rd down, one throw and one scramble, worked.
T5110I-Formation, 2-TERun21HenryOff Tackle
This play is supposed to go left tackle, but Henry probably loses a yard. He bumps into guys, then cuts back and goes right side, where only Nick Harper is. He can't make the tackle, and Henry's off for a big gain. Henry fumbles at the end of the run, and Jacob Bell is there to save his bacon. Thank goodness for offensive linemen who are 20 yards downfield, as Stewart was also right there.
T35110Standard 2-TEPenalty-5HenryFalse Start
T30115I-Formation, 2-TEPass11ScaifeTE Screen
Play action to Henry going off tackle, pulling all the defenders to that side. But Scaife stays home, VY hits him and he's able to get a good gain. (CA)
T4124Weak IRun-1HenryTrap(?)
The Colts are crashing play-side on the DL, and the OL doesn't get any penetration to the second level. The LBs are able to read the play and plug the holes to stop Henry for little gain.
T4035Shotgun Split BacksPass15YoungScramble
VY not seeing anything and taking off after he sees a big lane to the outside. But, he probably should have taken the checkdown to Hall, who seemed wide open on TV. This indicates he's not seeing the whole field, since Hall was to the left and VY was looking right the whole way and took off to the right. First downs are nice compensation, but you want to make the safe pass when it's open and useful (see Grossman, Rex).
I45110Shotgun 2-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakPass14YoungScramble
This is a play to looks to be mostly intermediate to deep routes. VY doesn't see anything quickly, so he takes off. Good to see him keeping his head up as he's scrambling sideways. I don't want to keep gushing about VY, try to keep some perspective, but I can't imagine what happens to this play if Collins is at QB.
I31110I-Formation, 2-WR WeakRun11HallFB Blast
This is a play that can be REALLY effective with the right FB. Give it to the TB, give to the TB, give to the TB, throw in the fear of VY running, and a quick handoff to Hall is devastating. He just runs through June's tackle and picks up a first down. Great play at the end of the first half, as I bet this must be dispiriting for the defense.
I20110Weak IRun-3HenryOff Tackle
Mathis makes this play. Roby goes in motion and ends up outside of Scaife at TE. Mathis shifts to a position outside Scaife. Bo's just seems to be to chip Mathis, then block the LB to seal off the play. But he stumbles as he chips Mathis, and Gardner is able to string out the play and make the tackle for a loss. Little things, but they win football games.
I23213Pro SetPass15HallScreen
Good screen play here, with Olson and Bell blocking left side. Marlin Jackson with a good diving tackle, else Hall has a good shot of taking it for a TD. (CA)
I81GStandard 2-TERun0HenryIso
Blocking is maybe off a bit, or at least OL wasn't able to get to the second level. June is there fastest, but LBs easily read the hole and react.
I82GI-Formation, 2-TE StrongPass-1HallSwing
Colts read this play well, with Brackett chasing Hall down the line and Harper on the outside. Hall running parallel to the line of scrimmage isn't a formula for success. (CA)
I93G3-WR, 2 WeakPass9-TDJonesSlant
David is playing 7 off, reasonable on 3&G from the 9, but he's playing outside. Hartsock runs a quick out as the TE on the side, drawing LB Brackett and giving VY a good place to throw the football. No safety help, and that's a TD pass.
Drive Notes: Thank goodness for Jacob Bell. Aside from Henry's long run, this was a VY drive. 4/4, 34, TD, 2 scrambles for 29 yards.
T20110Standard 2-TERun3HenryOff Tackle
Well, it's supposed to be off tackle, at least. Henry runs RT, but cuts the play back inside at RG. Not really sure why he did that. Stewart didn't have a great seal, but it looked like there was room RT.
This is a GREAT draw play, and a wonderful example of what can happen if you block the linebackers. Hartsock, Bell, Scaife are at the second level, and Brandon Jones had a good block, too. You or I probably could have managed a first down on this play.
I44110I-Formation, 2-TE StrongRun2HallFB Blast
This play isn't sold as well as Hall's previous carry. Really, this looks a lot more like a Henry run up the middle than the power run up the middle when the team is expecting off tackle.
I4228I-Formation, 2-TERun1HenryIso
Colts read Scaife's motion, which means the LBs shift and the DEs crash playside. A counter pitch would KILL when they do something like this. But, Henry gets not much.
I41374-WR ClosePassIncHartsockFlats and Gos
Roos false start, not flagged. A familiar formation, with the same routes-TEs running flats and WRs running streaks. Hartsock is WIDE OPEN in the right flat, and VY just throws it too far. Frustrating to watch, because this was definitely a first down and could have been a big gain. (IN)
Drive Notes: VY giveth (see last drive) and VY taketh away. See also boom-and-bust running: 3, 33, 2, 1.
Another play made by Mathis. There's supposed to be a lane between him crashing down and the outside. But, he's there and that lane isn't.
Pretty basic play, spread 'em out and let the mobile QB run. Kelvin Hayden does a good job to make the tackle-tough to tell how much more VY may have gotten, but at least the first down. There may have been a quick pass option on this play, but I think it was run all the way.
T31344-WR ClosePass9YoungScramble
Same play on which Hartsock was just open. Here, though, the TEs chip before running routes, and VY takes off before they run their routes. Henry runs a little checkdown route and gets a bump on LB June, who was spying VY. Not much, but enough to try him off.
T401102-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakRun1HenryIso
VERY conservative playcall. Tackle is made by Freeney, whom Roos didn't even bother to chip before going to the second level. That'll work against some DEs and with some RBs, but the Freeney/Henry combo is one it doesn't work with.
T4129Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WRPass18WadeCross
Wade lines up slot right, runs a left cross. Colts bring 6, but both backs stay in and it's pick up. Hayden with the coverage, but VY puts the ball right where it needs to be.
I41110Clock SpikePenalty-5JonesIllegal Formation
UGH, this was an unpleasant reminder of the first half of the Dallas game. Y'know, remember when the Titans burned 15 seconds trying to get David Givens to line up on the line? Here, it's Brandon Jones. This is just aggravating as all heck. But, this ended up actually helping the Titans. Since the Colts accepted the penalty, it's first down still. This means the Titans can run a play, spike the ball, run another play, and STILL kick the FG. If the Colts had declined this penalty, the Titans would have had to try the FG instead of their 3rd down play. I'm not sure which is the right call.
I46115Shotgun StrongPass4HenryCheckdown
VY sees nothing open and just gets rid of the ball to pick up a couple yards.
I42211Clock SpikePassIncYoungClock Spike
I423113-WR, 2 WeakPassIncHallShort Post
Scaife motions out of the backfield to be another WR. VY slips and falls as he's dropping back to pass and does well to get rid of the ball. Hall was open underneath at the 37 on the same route he ran for a first down earlier-conservative, but consistent with what Fisher is doing in the endgame. Maybe if VY is in shotgun, he doesn't slip, the Titans pick up a few yards, and Rob Bironas doesn't enter the record books. Ah, well, nothing succeeds like success. (IN)
Drive Notes: Fisher seemed to have a very clear intention in this drive: if at all possible, do not give Peyton Manning a chance to win the game in regulation. Watching this game on NFL Replay with the commercials taken out highlighted just how brief this drive really was. I can't decide if this was some fantastic clock management or idiocy induced by fear.

More stuff later, like a VY pass chart, possible error correction, and some formatting.

UPDATE (12-15, 1651 CT): Formatting changes! Colors to make things more readable! Still blank holes that annoy me!
UPDATE (7/11/07, 0034 CT): Filled in the blank spaces, finally.
UPDATE (7/11/07, 0036 CT): When I filled in the blank spaces, I got rid of the colors, and maybe some other format changes. Coming back tomorrow.
UPDATE (7/11/07, 2225 CT): Fixed the table, I think.
UPDATE (7/11/07, 2231 CT): Working on the color.
UPDATE (7/11/07, 2233 CT): Done? I hope so.