Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Upon Further Review: TEN@PHI

On November 19, 2006, the Titans defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-13. What's below is a play-by-play look at each Titans offensive play of the game.

T29110I-Form, 2-TERun2HenryStretch
Short run right tackle. Mike Patterson really beat Mawae off the line of scrimmage, forcing him into the backfield and almost preventing the handoff.
T31283-WR, 2-WR StrongRun-3HenryLeft Tackle
Strongside running play to the left, out of a more spread out formation. LBs aren't visible at the snap, but Barber is able to shoot the gap and trip up Henry in the backfield.
T28311Shotgun StrongPass13JonesPA Rollout
VY fakes the draw to Henry, then rolls right and throws a rope right to Jones, covered by Sheppard. There was a very small window here, and VY put it right in there. (DO), and a great play to pick up the conversion on third down. Nit: timing is a little off here. If VY gets to his throwing position earlier, the window is quite a bit bigger.
T41110Shotgun Split BacksRun43HenryCounter Trap
This is just a beautiful play. It looks almost like a QB sweep at first, with VY moving right, the TE (Scaife, I think) blocking up the line. Then, BAM!, handoff to Henry, who lined up to VY's right. Darwin Walker's out of the play, Henry runs through an arm tackle by McCoy(?), Hall gets a chip on Short, and Henry's off, fending off Sheldon Brown for nearly 25 yards before being brought down.
Blah, run up the middle.
P1428Weak I,2-TE StrongPass14-TDTroupePA Bootleg
Well, this is supposed to be a bootleg, but Hall couldn't get the block on Howard, so VY has to improvise. He scrambles back into the pocket, which is in good shape, then throws one up into the end zone that Troupe is able to grab. (CA)
Drive Notes: Overlooked play: the third down conversion at the start that kept the drive alive. Henry's big run was a great playcall, then VY and Troupe made the plays they needed to to get the TD.
T18110I-Form, 2-TERun-3HenryOff Tackle
A run off tackle is often a fine idea. Sometimes it's somewhat less than fine in the execution, and that's the case here, as Roos can't seal off DE Howard, who forces Henry to run parallel to the line of scrimmage. If you're the Titans, that's not the direction you want to see Travis Henry running. Yes, contra Gamebook, this was a left side play.
T152132-TEPass0-fumbleBennettSlip Screen?
I don't really get the "7 step drop to throw a ball -1 yards downfield", but I think this is supposed to be a little slip screen for Bennett. #1 Why can't this play be set up with a shorter drop? #2 Why the hell do you throw the slip screen to Bennett, as opposed to, say, Wade? #3 Why don't you get blockers out in front of him? McCoy is able to hit Bennett quickly, preventing the possibility of any YAC. The fumble comes when Bennett hits Mawae after getting hit by Bennett. (CA)
Drive Notes: Um, turnovers inside your own 20 are bad, mmkay? The Titans were fortunate to get away from this without giving up any points.
T20110Weak IPassIncJonesIn
Straight dropback. Jones lines up outside right, runs an in route, and VY throws it behind him. (IN)
T20210Standard 2-TERun8HenryRight Tackle
Jeez, Howard is way the heck offside here. The play as called works pretty well, with Henry finding a lane after all the people collapse at RT. Fisher decides to take 2&5 over 3&2.
T2525I-Form, 2-TERun8HenryStretch
The PBP guys calls this a "stop and go," for no apparent reason. Good blocking here at the point of attack.
T33110Standard 2-TEPassIncHenryPA Checkdown
VY takes the dropback, but sees a rusher coming, so he tries to throw it to Henry near the LOS. And misses him. (IN) No clue if anybody else was open downfield. It looks like the Eagles stunted a little, and brought DT Patterson late and Bell didn't release in time to pick him up.
T33210I-FormRun4HenryRight Tackle
A familiar look for the Titans. Jones motions across the formation, and ends up off the TE to the strong right side, and it's a give to Henry in that direction. As with the 8 yard run earlier this drive, Henry doesn't take it outside, but instead finds a lane further inside, and he dives forward for a 4 yard gain.
T3736Shotgun BasePassIncWadeOut
Wade lines up in the slot to the weak left side, and runs an out route near the first down marker. Dawkins jumps the route, and should have had a pick-6. It's tough to tell from the TV, but VY looks like he may have been looking at Wade the entire time. Any time a safety follows a play like this, it's either a (BR) or (IN)--call it .5 of each.
Drive Notes: Remember how VY made good throws and good decisions the last drive? Didn't happen this time.
T24110Shotgun BaseRun3WhiteRead Option
Ah, the little read option. VY makes the correct read, what with Juqua Thomas lurking unblocked after Roos goes down the line, so White blows into the line for a short gain.
T2727Weak IRun1WhiteLeft Tackle
I admit it, I'm not sure I really get the Weak I in this scenario. It's a run to the strong (left) side, and MLB Trotter is able to fight through the junk and tackle White for almost no gain. Hall might as well not even be in on this play, as he hardly does a thing, and what he does doesn't seem to affect what happens to White. White doesn't do a great job on this play, either, cutting inside instead of following his blocks outside. But, I don't really blame him for this, as Bell and Roos didn't have a good seal on the edge, and, as I keep repeating, White isn't fast enough to be a good outside runner in the NFL.
T2836Weak IPassIncTroupeIn
Ok, Troupe runs a little bit of a delayed route, going 4 yards down the field and running an in. Why do you run that pattern on 3&6? Barber jumps the route and the Eagles just miss an interception for the second time. Ball was thrown ahead of Troupe, towards Barber. For karmic justice, .5 (BR), .5 (IN).
Drive Notes: QB making bad decisions = drives not continuing. The 2006 Titans were not good enough to win without at least decent QB play. Get that, and they stood a chance. Not get it, and you see drives like the last 3 (though the Bennett fumble wasn't VY's fault).
A bit of a timing pattern for Bennett down the left sideline. Sheppard does a very good job of not letting Bennett run by him, so this play never has a chance. Not VY's fault this isn't completed. (CA)
Nearly the same call as the previous play, out of a different formation, and with some more disguising up front. Again, Sheppard has good coverage on Bennett and gets a hand in there to knock it away. A better receiver would have caught the ball. I'm torn on the grade on the pass-it hits Bennett on the hands, but I think the timing could have been better. Call it .5 (DO), .5 (CA), and I freely admit I'm being wishy-washy this game.
T12310Strong I, 2-WR Weak, TE FlexPass8HenryMiddle Screen
Since the formation isn't in my glossary, here's what it is. The Titans lined up in a Strong I, and Scaife flexed out wide, creating more of a Weak I, 3-WR look. The play is a middle screen, but Henry is stopped short of the first down. I actually don't mind the play call, in part because VY needed an easy throw after two passes that weren't really high percentage. (CA)
Drive Notes: As I allude to above, I don't really get why you run the same play twice in a row. This goes double if it's not a particularly high percentage play, and triple if it's not a play that seems to have any other options.
T38110I-Form, 2-TEPassIncHenryPA Bootleg
VY fakes to Henry, then bootlegs right weak. Henry runs what looks like a wheel route, and VY throws it across his body. Dhani Jones is in coverage, and S Michael "Not the Beer Man OR the Moneyball Guy" Lewis breaks up the play. Let me just repeat that: VY throws across his body way the hell across the field to a guy who's already being covered when there's a safety out there. This is, frankly, a DREADFUL decision, and VY is VERY lucky it wasn't intercepted. (BR)
T38210Shotgun 4-WRRun11YoungQB Draw
After the previous play, I really like this playcall. Your young QB has just done something stupid, so build up his confidence by letting him do something you know and he knows he's good at. Spread 'em out and hit 'em with a designed run. This is about an 8 yard run with most ballcarriers.
T49110I-Form, Standard 2-TERun-2HenryOff Tackle
May I just say how much I hate not seeing the start of the play? VY's 3 yards in the backfield after taking the snap from center before they show us the players instead of Jeff Fisher. I /think/ what happened here is that one of the Eagle DTs got penetration, at least enough to muck up the pulling linemen on this outside run. Trent Cole makes the play, but he appears to be the beneficiary of someone else's work.
T47212Shotgun StrongRun-2YoungRead Option(?)
It looks like a Read Option, only run up the middle. Mike Patterson, who might have mucked up the previous play, rushes to the Titans' left, and Olson follows, leaving a gap for the stunting Darwin Walker, who hits VY in the backfield. With this OL blocking, this play never had a chance. The really annoying thing is that if this play was really designed middle like I think, it was a great call. Patterson's move leaves him better equipped to take the tackle read option, but takes him out of the play here, and leaves Olson (assuming Mawae and Bell take Patterson) free to block Walker.
T45314Shotgun StrongPass20YoungScramble
The Eagles bring a heavy blitz here, 7 against 7 Titan blockers. VY sees this, doesn't have an immediate throw, and takes off. I think the TE or RB was a short route here, so with the other guys running downfield routes, there's lots of room for VY to do what VY does. (SCR)
P35110Standard 2-TE(?)PassIncWadeWaggle
This is another play where CBS doesn't bother to show us the formation. I think it was Standard 2-TE, but I'm not sure. VY boots after the play-action, and Trent cole is in hot pursuit. It looks like Dhani Jones did a good job to stay at home, so there's not much running room even if he can elude Cole. Wade on a drag about 15 yards downfield is the official intended target, but VY throws it into the ground 5 yards in front of him. He was covered, so this may well have been a throw away. It certainly didn't look to me like, say, his throw to Wade in the Colts game where Bobby got interfered with and the pass was probably too far ahead anyway. I was going to be generous, but then they showed Bennett was open by 5+ yards at the goal line. When you have a guy that wide open, there, you HAVE to hit him. Without Bennett, this is probably a Thrown Away, but he's out there, so it's a (BR). This is also instructive at showing the limits of television broadcasts.
P35210Shotgun Split BacksRun3HenryCounter Trap
This starts out looking a lot like the play they ran successfully for Henry's 43 yard gain, except with Scaife split out a little instead of flush to the tackle. The blocking doesn't work nearly as well, though, so it's only a short gain.
P3237Shotgun BasePassIncScaifeSeam
This is really a 2-TE set, with Troupe flexed out wide on the left instead of flush to Roos. Scaife runs a drag to the flat about 2 yards downfield, which seems odd on 3&7. What's even odder is that VY then throws the ball to him. The Eagles must be in some sort of zone here, as CB Lito Sheppard is right by Scaife, and jumps VY's HORRIBLE pass. If he catches it like he should have, it's a pick-6. Bad place to throw the ball, bad throw. (.5 BR, .5 IN), but as a letter grade, this play is like an F-minus.
P3247Shotgun BasePassIncBennettIn
Rather than try a 50 yard field goal, or punt from the PHI 32, Fisher elects to go for it. Not a bad call, in my opinion. Bennett runs an in about 9 yards downfield, but Will James is able to bat the ball away because VY throws it a little behind Bennett, likely concentrating too much on the safety. A better throw and the drive continues. (IN)
Drive Notes: The sine qua non for offensive success in the current NFL is the ability to pass the ball successfully. If you cannot do that, then you have to be exceptional in other areas to win ballgames. VY showed his running ability this drive, but didn't have any success at all throwing the football.
T271102-TE StrongRun0HenryRight Tackle
The Titans try to run behind the 2 TEs. Unfortunately, all this does is tell the Eagles where the play is going, and Henry never makes it all the way to the tight ends.
T27210Weak IRun2HenryIso
Blah, short run up the middle. Another play where I don't get the weak I formation.
T2938Shotgun StrongPassIncJonesCurl?
VY with the fake read option, and a little bit of a rolling pocket. The pass is (IN) for Jones, as it goes sailing past where he's supposed to be right before he's there. Part of that was where the D-holding on James came in, but if the refs miss that or don't call it, then that play has to be completed or else the drive dies. From the replay, it's pretty clear that VY's window of opportunity was earlier than when he actually did throw the football, so I feel better about an (IN) grade.
T34110Strong IPass-5YoungSack
Cole attacks Stewart with an outside rush. Stewart mostly has good position, giving VY a circular pocket to work from (fine, it's technically more of an oval-esque cylinder), but Cole reaches out with his hand and bats the ball out of VY's grasp when he does that. This is something VY really needs to work harder on next year, avoding losing possession of the football. Thankfully, the Titans do get the ball back. (PR)
T29215Standard 2-TERun5HenryIso
Familiar run right up the middle out of a 2-TE set. The Eagle defense is interesting on this play-the LBs are shaded to the Titans' right, with Dawkins(?) covering nobody in the slot to the left side. Good blocking up the middle and Henry goes ahead for five.
T34310Shotgun 4-WRRun12YoungDraw
Troupe is in the slot right, so this is the familiar Shotgun Base with a TE flex. VY is running all the way, and there's a huge hole right up the middle and blockers in right of him, but he goes up the middle and immediately starts running right. That's not the sort of thing he's supposed to be able to do in the NFL, but he beats the Eagles defenders to the corners and gets the first down.
T46110Shotgun StrongRun4HenryCounter Trap
Decent gain on the same play we've seen before, with a minor formation wrinkle--Henry is offset to VY's right, almost like a TE would be, rather than the normal position next to the QB. The TE also on the left side is also off the line.
5026Shotgun BaseRun5WhiteRead Option
Roos free releases Trent Cole, making VY's decision to give the ball to White pretty darn easy. The O-line got decent push, so White starts looking for a hole rather than attacking the line and Cole tackles him from behind. Positively Ron Dayne-ian.
P4531I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun5WhiteIso
The 2 WR are Bennett split out and Jones over right tackle. Two Eagle defenders attack the middle of the line, to no avail, and Hall pops the man in the hole right side, giving White a nice place to run and pick up the first down. Thanks for attacking the hole on 3&1.
P40110Shotgun StrongPass9YoungScramble
Troupe is in the slot right, so this is really a 2-TE formation. It didn't look like VY had many reads on this play, or else he didn't want to risk a throw, because he took a quick look, pump faked, then took off and run. Decent gain, and he's aware enough to get out of bounds. With :55 to play, that's a very good move. (SCR)
P31213-WR, 2-WR WeakRun3WhiteRight Tackle
I don't get why the heck Eagle defenders keep running into places where there already are Eagle defenders. It just happened, and happens again here. White, to paraphrase Wee Willie Keller, runs where they ain't and dives forward for the first down. Maybe that's the key to him being an effective player.
P28110Shotgun BasePass18WadeOut
After a drive that's been almost all running plays, it's nice to see a ball actually thrown. Very good play, too, as Wade finds a gap in the coverage and VY puts it where it needs to be. I'm feeling generous, but will limit myself to (CA).
P101104-WR ClosePassIncScaifeSeam
4 players standing up, but it's really a 2-TE set with both Scaife and Troupe not in a three-point stance and Bennett and Jones close in. VY finds Scaife open, except for Brian Dawkins, who tips the ball away and could have had an interception. Don't throw this ball here. (BR)
P10210Standard 2-TEPassIncWhiteCheckdown
VY's first read is the fade to Bennett on the left side, but he's well-defended. Troupe in the flat is also covered, so VY throws a short pass to White. Behind him. White probably should have still caught it, but he was only 2 yards downfield and wouldn't have been able to do anything with the ball even if he had. (IN)
P10310Standard 2-TEPass-8YoungSack
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is known for his aggressive blitzing. Here, the Eagles had 9 guys within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap, including bringing Sean Considine up late on the Titans' right side. The only bring 7 of them, but Considine goes pretty much abated and prevents VY from getting away. The left side also had problems, because the Eagles brought 5 of the 7 from there, but Considine was the decider. I don't know if VY just didn't see Considine, in which case someone should have pointed it out to him, or what, but this play never had a chance. (.5 PR, .5 BR)
Drive Notes: It was nice to get back the 3 points the Titans had allowed on the previous drive right, and go into halftime with a 4-point lead restored. It also would have been nice to be able to pass the danged football.
T30110I-Form, 2-TERun70HenryIso
This looks like a generic up the middle right, with better blocking than normal. Henry has a stiff-arm on Sheldon Brown, Brian Dawkins can't make the tackle from behind, and there's nobody who seriously challenges him for the last 50 yards. Solomon Wilcots actually does a pretty decent job of breaking down this play after a couple commercial breaks. The Eagles are in a balanced 4-3, 7 in the box. Cramer went in motion from right to left, balancing the 9 interior guys (WR split left). The play is supposed to go right tackle, and the blocking shifts that way. LBs Trotter and Jones flow to the right side of the formation, blocking off tackle and right tackle. The other LB, McCoy, takes over middle gap responsibility, but Roos is able to block him because Bell does a good job on DT Walker. Cramer has the Eagle DE on that side. S Lewis appears to have coverage responsibility on Scaife, and appears to take a poor angle to Henry, Henry stiff-arms Brown and gets position on Dawkins, and that's all she wrote.
Drive Notes: 1 play drives are fun to break down! Titans go up 17-6 here, and Pacman returns a punt the next time they would go on offense to go up 24-6. It's fun to win game even when you can't throw the ball.
T12110I-Form, 2-TERun2WhiteIso
The Titans start backed up at their own 12 after Pacman's punt return isn't nearly as good as his previous one, then he throws the ball at Mike McCoy after McCoy kicks him in the head when he's on the ground (no sign this was intentional). The play looks just like the Henry run for the TD, just blocking wasn't as good. The announcers thankfully just blather on about how Pacman has to show maturity, and don't seem to have realize he got kicked in the head.
T14282-TE, 2-WR WeakRun-4WhiteOff Tackle
Trent Cole gets leverage on David Stewart and drives him into the backfield, right where White is running with the ball. Blame for this play is easy to assign, and definitive. I wouldn't want to be Stewart when they show this play on film, and this is the sort of play you'll keep around for a while.
T10312Shotgun StrongPass11WhiteScreen
Middle screen to White, and a good playcall. White shows better power running than he normally does. Dawkins appears to be going for a strip, forcing White to cover up. This slows down White, but nearly proves costly for Dawkins as he probably could have had White sooner and nearly gives up the first down because he can't bring White down until Considine comes up. This play is originally called a first down, then challenged by the Eagles and called just short of the marker. This is a good reversal. (CA)
Drive Notes: It would have been nice to do something offensively this game, like successfully throw the ball more than 1 yard downfield.
Jones on a go route, and he's ahead of Sheppard. Naturally VY's pass is way the hell short. Jones jumps up, should have it, but doesn't, almost tips it to Lito, tips it away, and can't come down with it. If this is a well-thrown ball, Jones catches it in stride and it's a TD. And if your aunt had balls, she'd be your uncle. (IN)
Blah, short run up the middle.
T29310Shotgun StrongPass9JonesOut
Fake the counter/read option, then rollout. VY faces pressure, starts to run, then dumps it to Jones while being dragged down from behind. I'm not sure if this is a great play to avoid a sack, if it's a terrible play because he can't get the ball further downfield or get away from the defender, or if why Jones was open. Jones was down on the ground, right by the sideline, so it's not like he was lunging forward for the first down. (CA), I guess.
Drive Notes: See above. I guess the pass to Jones was more than 1 yard downfield, but I can't regard it as a successful play under the circumstances.
T35110Weak IPass28HallWaggle
Waggle action! VY fakes, then boots, and hits Hall on a checkdown. Scaife gets a chip on Dawkins, who's the closest defender, and the blocking downfield isn't too shabby. (CA) It looks like Hall could have avoided Considine if he's gone outside of the WR block instead of inside. Still a very nice gain, though.
P37110I-Form, Standard 2-TERun3HenryIso
Blah, short run up middle.
P3427I-Form, Standard 2-TERun2HenryRight Tackle
Blah, short run right side.
P3235Weak I, 3-WRPass-4YoungSack
Another blitz. Considine comes free again, VY has to step up, into more blitzers. C'mon, VY, be smarter than this. (.5 BR, .5 PR)
Drive Notes: A first down! A first down! I will love it and hug it and squeeze it and call it George, and it will be my friend. Most games you only have 1 first down the second half, you lose, particularly when you only score 10 points the first half. (Ok, maybe Henry's TD run counts as another first down. It isn't really, though.)
P49110I-Form, 2-TERun2HenryIso
Run left a little bit, cutback to that play where everybody's cracked down and created a lane, only S Michael Lewis was there.
P4728I-Form, 2-TERun3HenryRight Tackle
Blah, short run right side.
P4435Weak I, 2-TEPassIncRobyDrag
WTF is VY doing here? PA, then he looks and rolls out wide trying to find something open. At this point, he needs to figure out the game situation, and see that if he can't get the corner, he needs to just go down and kill the clock. Instead he tries to throw the ball to Roby, who's come clear across the field. He's fortunate this pass didn't get intercepted. (BR)
Drive Notes: Up 24-13 with 3:44 to go, Fisher opts to sit on the ball. So would I. I don't get the third down playcall at all.

The Titans would later expand their lead to 31-13 near the end of the game, off a fumble return TD by Keith Bulluck after the Eagles snap the ball over QB Jeff Garcia's head. After the Eagles try lateraling the kickoff around, the Titans recover the ball and VY kneels the ball down to win the game and end one of the longer regular-season games you're likely to see.

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