Thursday, February 01, 2007

Upon Further Review: TEN@BUF

A solid month later than I planned, here is some UFR of the Titan's Week 16 30-27 win over Buffalo. UPDATE: whole game up.

A familiar formation, with Bennett split out and Brandon Jones lined up almost as an H-back over the TE. Run is left guard. Henry takes it middle, but it looked like more yards may have been available if he'd bounced to the left of Fleming instead of to his right. Still, a nice gain on first down.
T38243-WR, Slot StrongRun-1HenryOff Tackle
Wade is the slot guy and he's lined up about where Jones was the previous play. Off Tackle here is more of a power outside run. But Buffalo's defense gets to the corner faster than Henry does and there's no running room here. I don't like this playcall.
T3735Shotgun BasePass22JonesPost
Great protection here. VY has lots of time in the pocket, Jones gets past McGee in the zone, and snags a good sidearm line drive from VY right in front of Whittner. 0 YAC, but a good conversion on 3rd and medium. (DO)
B41110Weak IPass16HallWaggle Swing
This play looks for all the world like another off tackle run right with Bell pulling at the snap. But VY fakes the handoff to Henry and slips left a little. Aaron Schobel kept contain (cf LaBoy, Travis), so VY dumps it off to Hall, who'd slipped out of the backfield. Hall races past weakside LB Keith Ellison and picks up a nice gain. (CA)
B25110I-FormationRun3RobyEnd Around
Fake to Henry up the middle, and Roby comes off the HBack WR spot right to take the ball on the end around. Ellison recovers quickly off just an OK block by Hall, and forces Roby to move outside. Clements makes the stick for the tackle after Drew Bennett demonstrates he can't block a CB for very long. If Hall has a better block, this is good enough, but Bennett looks really bad on the initial showing of this play. In fairness to Drew, he didn't look nearly as bad as Ocho Cinco did on Rudi Johnson's run against the Steelers in last year's AFC WC game (seriously, if you want to see a WR badly pretened to try to block, find a tape of that play). (DO)
B2227Shotgun StrongPass22-TDWadeDrag(?)
7 stayed in to block here and the Titans needed it against only 4 rushes, because David Stewart didn't even try to get out to block end Chris Kelsay. Hartsock and a pulling Bell try, but VY is flushed from the pocket. Whence Buffalo's defense properly reacts to, and improperly overreacts to. VY pulls up right before crossing the LOS and hits a pretty open Bobby Wade at the 5, and the ex-Bear easily moves into the end zone. (CA)
Drive Notes: TEN up 7-3. 3 rushes, 8 yards. 3 passes, 60 yards. Again, the secret to offensive success in the NFL is success throwing the football. You'd think this would be obvious, with the way people are concentrating on Rex Grossman's "varied" level of play, but you still see too many people, people who should and shouldn't no better, talking about the running game being the key to win. A good running game is a good thing to have, but, ceteris paribus, you'll do better with a very good passing game and a fair running game than a fair passing game and a very good running game. See FO's FAQ. I feel like I say this a lot in these drive recaps, almost as much as "VY is awesome." And on the 2 22-yard passes, he was, he was. My grades may be a little more generous than normal, simply because it's been so long since I've done this or maybe because Ralph Wilson Stadium is known for awesome wind conditions.
T34110I-Formation, 2-WR WeakRun5HenryLeft Tackle
Nice blocking at the point of attack.
T39253-WR, Slot WeakRun-1HenryRight Tackle
Jones in his familiar HB position. Another play that looks just too slow to run with Henry, as starting him 7 yards back and taking a deep handoff allows the LBs to converge to the point of attack.
T3836Shotgun Split BacksPass7HartsockOut
A great little out pattern. VY's throw goes to the proper shoulder, allowing Hartsock to run past Thomas and pick up 2 YAC for a first down. DO is a little bit of an elevated grade, but an improperly placed throw or a weak one doesn't allow Ben to get the 1D.
T45110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun30HenryOff Tackle
This play looks pretty innocuous at the start, like another basic right side off tackle run. Hartsock does a good job of sealing DE Chris Kelsay, Olson pulls to pick off the LB, Fleming stops a DB in the hole, and Henry's through the hole. Henry shakes off an ankle tackle by Larry Triplett (this is way Chris Brown didn't have 30 yard runs), and he's off rampaging through the secondary. THIS is how you run Henry-beat teams physically at the point of attack.
B25110Shotgun BaseRun1VY/PacmanRead Option
I think I'll start calling this the Pacman formation. It starts out as a basic read option. Kelsay's crashing down, so VY fakes the handoff and takes off. He's running left side, drawing the D to him and tosses the ball on the second option for Pacman on the outside. Pac fails to handle the pitch, and the ball's rolling around before he picks it up and steps out of bounds for a 1 yard gain.
B2429Shotgun Split BacksRun6WhiteCounter
Something I've seen a lot less of from the Titans than I wanted, White and Henry in the same backfield. It's a delay, and White picks up a decent gain up the middle. Of course, part of the reason for the gain was because Henry tackled Ellison by the helmet in the hole. Uh, Travis, can't do that.
B34219Strong IRun2HenryIso
Travis Henry's flaws as a runner show up on this play. A quicker back with better vision can cut this run outside after going through the hole and pick up what looks like a nice gain. The Titans have a quicker back, but shift your eyes upward a little to Henry's 30 yard run to refresh your memory as to why he's been inactive lately.
B323174-WR ClosePass8HartsockFlats and Gos
A familiar formation and play for the Titans. You'd like to see a quicker throw than VY made here, but an 8 yard gain isn't too bad. I doubt Fisher kicks the FG from the 32. (CA)
Drive Notes: Game tied at 10 after Bironas hits this FG. Yes, this drive is a little bit of an exception to passing success = victory. But this is only as repeatable as 30-yard runs are, i.e. not very. And don't forget the previous play was a 3rd down conversion pass. And past 3rd and 3 or so, passing gives you a better shot of picking up the first down.
B37110Standard 2-TE, 2-WR RightPass32JonesDeep In
Excellent pocket for VY and a nice throw 25 yards downfield for Jones. CB McGee goes for the INT, but it's over his head. Roydell Williams ran the same route, just 5-7 yards deeper. If the ball gets to him, it's probably a TD, as McGee was more on Jones and S Ko Simpson probably wouldn't have made it over in time. (CA)
B51G3-WR, Slot WeakRun0HenryStretch
Brandon Jones is the strong-side WR, lined up in his familiar H-back position. The key block is to be by Jones or the TE on S Donte Whittner, who'd lined up off the LDE. But Jones doesn't get a good seal. This means a pulling Benji Olson can't move past him and seal the edge, and that's why this play went for no gain.
B52GI-Form, 2-TE StrongRun3HenryIso
Generic run up the middle. Looks to be stuffed well but Henry does well to fall forward and pick up 2+ yards.
B23G4-WR, Trips WeakPassIncHartsockIn?
The Bills rush 5 against 5 defenders. The problem is, LDE Chris Kelsay lines up outside of Hartsock and Stewart can't get out to him after Hartsock goes into a pass pattern. Good scheme by Buffalo, or at least a failure to adjust by the Titans. VY tries to do his VY thing, but Aaron Schobel has him by the legs and a potentially dangerous pass falls harmlessly to the ground. VY should have just taken a sack instead. There was a window to Hartsock, but that's a window that could also have closed easily. (IN) for being short and awarded for overall status, though BR for danger and PR for being dragged down were also considered.
Drive Notes: Titans up 13-10 after Bironas hits from 20 yards out. Good job to turn an INT into points, but disappointing to have 1&G at the 5 and not get into the end zone. Maybe if VY's pass to Jones goes a little farther, maybe, maybe, maybe. As I say too often, maybe "if my aunt had balls, then she'd be my uncle."
The Titans start up at their own 7 after a holding call on the kickoff. Henry is able to scoot his way forward for a couple yards.
T1225I-Form 2-WR WeakRun4HenryStretch
A play I generally hate watching Henry run, but it works out tolerably well.
T1631Weak IPass-10YoungSack
T14Penalty15BUF-SchobelFace Mask
This was called as a waggle play. Aaron Schobel stays at home, but Ahmad Hall is there. Schobel shrugs off Hall's blocking by pulling him down by the face mask. Uh, no, you can't do that. Dumb play, because it looked like the Bills had this one well-defensed and VY was running far enough backwards it didn't look like he could have run for the first down. (PR)
T291102-TE, 2-WR RightPass14JonesWaggle
Some nice waggle action here. London Fletcher-Baker has Cooper Wallace covered short, but VY finds Brandon Jones open downfield in the middle of about 3 Bills defenders. (CA)
T43110I-FormationPenalty-5JonesFalse Start
Blah, an I-back run up the middle. I was describing this little project to a co-worker, who wondered what one could write about a 1-yard dive play. The answer I gave him: "not much."
T392143-WR, Slot WeakPass-2WhiteScreen
Techincally, the pass went backwards, so this should be a run play and not a pass play. In either event, it's a screen. Aaron Schobel's running a stunt, so he's able to shrug off Bell's block and scoot over and Williams does the same. And McGee and Fletcher-Baker were both there, too. White does well to pick up 6 yards to lose only 2. VY's pass here was mediocre, really. (IN)
T37316Shotgun StrongPass6WhiteCheckdown
VY steps back to pass, feels the DE coming and steps up in the pocket into some space. Rather than run it himself and possibly take a hit, he dumps it off to White. Much as in the play late in the first Colts game, running would probably have earned him more yardage. Here, as opposed to there, I think dumping it off was the smarter play. I kind of wonder why the Bills' best corner, Clements, is playing so short on 3&long, but I guess that's the Cover-2 for you. (CA)
Drive Notes: Decent drive to get some yardage, but overall not very fulfilling. The most valuable thing this drive did, I think was use up clock time while going into the wind.
T43110Shotgun 4-WRPass13WhiteCheckdown
Having seen a lot of 4-wide sets by the Bills, the Titans come out in the same thing. The Bills cheat and rush 5 guys instead of the mandatory 4. VY takes a little checkdown to White, who spins to avoid London Fletcher-Baker and picks up some good yardage. (CA)
B44110Shotgun BasePassIncHartsockOut
VY hits Hartsock in the hands 15 yards downfield, and Hartsock drops it. Steve Tasker starts talking about the wind, but I didn't know the wind could make players not catch balls that hit their hands. Yeah, maybe it's a hard catch to make, but Hartsock's being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do things like make that catch. (CA)
B44210Shotgun BasePass8YoungScramble
VY drops back to pass, takes a look, but quickly takes off. Ellison is the defender who really makes the play, but that's because LenDale does a lousy job of blocking him. This is a 1D if White actually blocks Ellison. The result of this drive kind of obviates that result, but that doesn't make it a good play. (SCR)
B3632Shotgun BasePassIncBennettIn
VY throwing into the wind puts the ball a little behind Bennett. Probably should have just taken the checkdown to White on the right side; he could have picked up the 1D without a problem, I think, and that's what's important on 3&2. Plus, he had a better shot than Bennett of getting OOB and preserving the Titans' last timeout. (IN)
B3642Shotgun StrongPass36-TDYoungScramble
I (heart) VY. This play is a good visual depiction of why speed is overrated in the NFL. What makes this run possible is VY's field vision and agility; he's fast, but he doesn't really out-run the Bills defenders so much as merely avoid them. And his teammates help him out, with the OL going downfield, White blocking Kelsay, and Wade on McGee near the end zone. If only he could have run for another second... (SCR)
Drive Notes: Have I mentioned lately VY is awesome? Well, he is. When you have the #3 overall pick in the NFL draft, you want to get a special player, the kind who changes games. Yeah, that's VY. Titans lead 20-16.
T10110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun3HenryRight Tackle
Blah, short run.
T13272-TE, 2-WR WeakRun5HenryIso
A better run up the middle. S Ko Simpson, up in run support, with a decent leg tackle.
T1832Strong IPassIncHallFlat
VY burns a TO here, which is annoying to see so early in the second half. VY throws this ball quickly to Hall in the flat, but it's a poor pass. With a good one, maybe Hall can run for some yards and pick up a first down, but I think VY would have been well served to hold on to this ball a little and wait for somebody to get open. (IN)
Drive Notes: 3&out to start the second half. After a short KO return by Pacman, this is disappointing. Titans lead 20-19.
T26110Standard 2-TEPassIncHartsockWaggle
Some more nice waggle action. Hartsock has another pass hit him in the hands, London Fletcher-Baker kind of runs into him, Hartsock doesn't catch another one, Steve Tasker making more excuses. Dude, the pass hit him in the chest. (CA)
T26210Standard 2-TERun4HenryIso
Henry is able to pick his hole and cut outside to pick up a few more yards. I guess that's the plus-side of running him from 7 yards off without a FB. But I still don't think it's Henry's strength.
T3036Shotgun StrongPassIncHenryCheckdown
Throwing into the wind, it seems like VY is playing conservatively. He takes a quick checkdown to Henry at the first sign of pressure and doesn't make a good throw. From the replay, it looks like Brandon Jones is open near the sticks. I don't like this decision by VY. (IN)
Drive Notes: Playing into the wind, they seem to cripple the offense. Considering passing is the key to offensive performance, that doesn't seem like a particularly wise decision. Titans trailing 26-20.
T2110I-Form, 2-TE StrongRun1HenryIso
T2110PenaltyDecl.RoosIllegal Formation
Normally, when you have 2 running backs in an I-formation and 2 TE on the strong side of the play, you have a WR on the weak side. I don't know who screwed up here, but Brandon Jones was lined up on the same side as the 2 TEs. This penalty is totally unacceptable. Roos gets his name on the penalty, but this is totally not his fault. The play is a generic "run up the middle near your own goalline." But the formation, ugh. I'm a little surprised Buffalo declined the penalty--the difference between the 2 and the 1 can be pretty big.
T329I-Form, 2-TE Strong, WR WeakRun60HenryRight Tackle
Nice blocking at the point of attack here. This could have been a generic run, but Henry manages to burst through the hole. Stewart's hold was a help, but not technically required, which is why it's such a shame that this run is called back for it. Not nearly as bad as Pacman's PR TD v. Miami or the one last year for the sideline penalty, but still disappointing. This was almost certainly a big momentum shift at the time that was cruelly wiped out.
T2210I-Form, 2-TE Strong, WR WeakRun3WhiteOff Tackle
Henry taking a breather after the 60 yard run, White getting a short run.
T537Shotgun StrongRun-3YoungScramble
The Titans do a poor job here of blocking Schobel-Roos blocks down and ends up in a kind of no-man's land between Schobel and the DT. Henry does his best to hold off Schobel, but VY is forced to move up in the pocket. Denny is able to free himself from Hartsock and tackle VY in the backfield. Yes, the Titans had 7 in to block 4 and did a lousy job at it. (PR)
Drive Notes: The third quarter couldn't come to an end quickly enough for the Titans. The plays that allowed them to score 20 in the first half look gone, gone, gone. They held the Bills the last possession (by tipping a pass on 3rd down when they brought pressure(!)), but trailing 26-20, backed up like this, punting into the wind, they needed some yards and didn't net anything.
T38110I-Form, 2-TE WeakRun3HenryStretch
Nice stiff-arm by Henry on Spikes, who was right there to stop the play for a short loss. With it, Henry was able to move outside and pick up a couple yards. Otherwise, no chance.
T4127Weak IPassIncHartsockSlant?
I think this pass goes behind Hartsock. The ball probably should have been thrown to Henry, who'd slipped out of the backfield and didn't appear to have a Bill within 10 yards of him, while 2 Bills were near Hartsock. (IN)
T4137Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WRPass9YoungScramble
Sometimes VY just does what VY does. Not seeing anybody open downfield, he just takes off and beats the Bills to the corner. White has a nice block no McGee to prevent him from coming up and sticking VY before the first down. (SCR)
50110I-FormPenalty-5OlsonFalse Start
T45115I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun6HenryLeft Tacakle
Here's how to run Henry: overwhelm the team at the point of attack and let him run forward. Did this, and they picked up 6 yards.
B4929Strong IRun19HenryLeft Tackle
Ah, Travis Henry. Spikes should have him after a gain of about 3, but he can't bring Henry down and Travis rolls on for 15 more yards.
B30110Standard 2-TE, 2-WR LeftRun5WhiteIso
Hit them at the point of attack, that's what the Titans' backs can do. This team could use a back with better mobility, but they've shown they can have some success doing what their backs do best. I'm sure the threat of the pass helps this play out.
B2525Weak IRun7HenryOff Tackle
Henry stuffed at the edge? That's ok, Hall can just grab onto Keith Ellison and then Henry can bounce it for a couple yards. Except that sort of thing's illegal in this NFL.
B33213Strong IPass4JonesFlat
Jones lines up flush to the TE in his familiar H-back-type spot and runs a simple flat. VY's pass is high, but Jones does well to bring it in. (IN) to reflect degree of difficulty of catch on such a short throw and to achieve overall balance.
B2939Strong IPass29-TDJonesCross
Jones is wide open in the middle of the field at about the 15. VY's pass is a little behind him, but Jones snags it easily and uses the momentum of the ball to change direction and run past McGee and Simpson into the end zone. A very good individual effor by Jones. (CA)
Drive Notes: Bills lead down to 29-27. A pretty efficient drive for the Titans, and particularly impressive given the two penalties. See also: 2 3rd down conversions, 2 pass plays on third downs.
T121102-TE StrongRun11HenryIso
Quick run up the middle. They brought Jones in to the 2-TE side and the Bills loaded that side, so a run to the opposite side is very effective. Henry is able to drag tackles for 4 yards.
T23110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun4HenryIso
The rare defensive holding call, this time against a Titans opponent. Olson was trying to get to the second level, and Triplett prevented him from getting there. Worse for the Bills, it didn't really matter because Henry was being tackled from beind.
T32110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun3HenryIso
You know, you'd think the Titans like running up the middle or something.
T3527I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun5HenryRight Tackle
Same side of the formation, similar play, just a little further outside. I'm still not sure just how Henry can get outside as well as he seems to sometimes.
T4032Strong IPass12HallSlant
A short post, or the triangle pass, as I think of it when playing Madden. Hall runs out a little, then runs a slant. The ball is well-placed, allowing Hall to catch it a little short of the first down and run for good yardage. A simple play, but an effective one. (CA)
B48110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun6HenryIso
If you can run the ball up the middle between the tackles with success, I guess you might as well. I don't really have much to say about it, though.
B4224Strong IRun6HenryIso
Henry up the middle, stutter-steps a little, then runs right tackle and gets some good yardage.
B36110Standard 2-TERun3WhiteIso
Henry getting a breather, but White runs the same sort of play. Still reasonably effective.
B33272-TE StrongRun2WhiteIso
When you run between the tackles, try running the play to the side where you outnumber the defenders, not the one where they outnumber you. White cuts it back for a couple, else he loses a yard on this play.
B3135Strong I, 2-WR WeakPass9YoungScramble
A little bit of a change-up to the formation, as Hartsock flexes out wide. Schobel beats Roos with a nice spin move, forcing VY to run around. It looks like Denny will stop him in the backfield, but VY runs past him and picks up the first down. Have I mentioned lately I(heart) VY? (SCR)
B22110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun0HenryOff Tackle
For the record, the difference in my book between "off tackle" and "stretch" is relatively slight. It's partially a matter of watching the QB make the handoff-does he drop straight back or is he moving in one direction? It's also looking at the back-does he seem to be looking to run right off the tackle or is he looking to run more outside? The distinction is sometimes slight, and I don't know I'm good at making it. This is why, for example, I call almost all inside runs an "iso."
B22210I-Form, 2-TE StrongRun6HenryLeft Tackle
Good run to the left side for Henry.
B1634Shotgun StrongRun3YoungRead Option
Are you going to trust VY or not? I don't understand why you run a gimmicky running play like a read-option here when (i) you've been having success going right at them in a power mode and (ii) you've been successful calling normal pass plays on 3D. If you're that scared of a mistake, call a draw play. Even if it's a QB draw. VY makes this a 3 yard gain that nearly makes the first down instead of a run for no gain. Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker make some idiotic noises about Fisher going for this instead of kicking the FG to go ahead.
Drive Notes: Titans up 30-29 after Bironas hits the 30 yard FG. A good amount of running plays, and some key conversions on third downs calling pass plays. I would have liked to see more pass plays, but maybe the wind was even worse than I was giving it redit for.

The Titans ran a QB kneel after Losman's desperation pass on 4th down was intercepted, but those are even less interesting to chart than 2 yard runs up the middle.

I'd like to finish NE before the Super Bowl, but that'll depend on just how much running around and other stuff I have to do tomorrow before the Super Bowl. After that, I plan to go back and add the second quarter to the Colts game, and do the rest of the Giants game. I also have the tape of the Eagles game from the previous week. It should be a nice contrast to see if VY played as well the entire Giants game as I thought he did and as poorly the Eagles game as Merrill Hoge thought he did (yeah, I disagree with Hoge on VY's future, but he does watch tape and I can't just cavalierly say he's wrong).

UPDATE (Feb. 4, 0032 CT): Finished the entire game. Post revised accordingly.

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