Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Top 500 Titans

So, Peter King of Sports Illustrated ranked the Top 500 players in the NFL, regardless of position. Which Titans made the list?

#41 Vince Young (#8 QB)
#70 Keith Bulluck (#9 LB)
#101 Kyle Vanden Bosch (#13 DE)
#110 Pacman Jones (#11 CB)
#117 Albert Haynesworth (#9 DT)
#128 Chris Hope (#5 SS)
#187 Michael Roos
#212 Nick Harper
#276 David Thornton
#452 Benji Olson

The whole list is kind of silly, for reasons partially articulated elsewhere, but it's interesting to see what he thinks of the Titans. The ranking I quibble with the most is of Pacman; Devin Hester is #69, and I believe there's a good case that Pacman no worse a returner in 2006, plus he's actually a very good corner, one of the couple best (3-4) in the league. It's not clear to me if #110/#11 CB is actually where PK thinks he is, or if there's some sort of discounting going on.

It's also very nice to see Michael Roos get some recognition-he doesn't get much national publicity, but nor did Brad Hopkins and he was also a rock at the LT position for over a decade. I'm very surprised that Olson was the other Titans lineman selected, particularly given the fine reputation Mawae seems to enjoy around the NFL. For the record, King ranks 16 Centers, including rookie Samson Satele at #499. Oversight, or deliberate?

I'm also surprised to see Nick Harper ranked so highly, given his rep around the league as solely a Cover 2 corner utterly unsuited to man coverage. He's not that bad, but he also doesn't strike me as particularly good. Thornton's a better LB than Harper is a CB.

Aside from probably Mawae, and maybe Stewart and/or Bell, I don't really think there were any Titans who deserved to make it. And that's not very good.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Upon Further Review: TEN@BUF Offense 1H

UFR, Preseason Week 3, Titans over Buffalo 28-17. Since it's still the preseason, UFR is just offense, and only the first half at that.

T20110Strong I, 2-WR WeakPass14ScaifeDrag
VY starts out with a play fake to White, then turns to bootleg, but Aaron Schobel stayed at home and prevents any of that. VY then immediately guns it downfield to Scaife, who's at the numbers on the opposite side after running a drag route. Good decision, good grab, good start to a drive. (CA)
T34110I-Form, Standard 2-TERun3WhiteIso
Blah, short run up middle.
T3727Standard 2-TERun9WhiteStretch
I have NO idea how this wasn't flagged for illegal formation-Hartsock is flush to Stewart and the WR to the right side is right up against the line. The play is a good stretch run left. Amano has a nice block pulling. I can't see why the Bills didn't flow to the hole better, but I'm not complaining.
T461103-WR, Slot WeakRun0WhiteStretch
Different formation, same play, stretch left behind Scaife and Roos. This time the Bills do a much better job of defending it.
VY play fakes to White, then surveys the field. Apparently seeing nobody open and seeing pressure from the right, he dumps it off to White in the left flat. Ellison misses a tackle, and White gets about 3 YAC. (CA)
5036Trips LeftPass14R. WilliamsSlant
Trips are Moulds, Scaife, and Hartsock, while Roydell is in single coverage right. Good throw, about 5 YAC, and a nice third down conversion. What makes this play is that the RB (Brown, I think) starts out like he's going on a pattern. This freezes the LB, Ellison, preventing him from filling the slant lane for VY. (CA)
B36110I-FormationRun3WhiteOff Tackle
Blah, short run right side.
B33272-TE StrongPass12WhiteScreen
A well-blocked screen play, as White doesn't face any real tacklers until he's about 10 yards downfield. Alas, it comes back, as Roos is called for a holding Fisher thought shouldn't have been flagged. I have no idea what holding is, so I'll just say I'm not sure. (CA)
B43217Shotgun 3-WR, Slot StrongPassIncDavis?Out
Tim Anderson gets his hand up and bats down this ball at the line of scrimmage. Both WRs on the left side had run out routes, Davis about 8 yards downfield and the other about 15 yards downfield. It's impossible to know for sure which one VY was aiming for. (PR), I guess, since I'm not going to create a (Batted) category.
B43317Shotgun 3-WR, Slot StrongPass18BrownScreen
Same formation, just with the strong side flipped. Brown gets a chip on Schobel, then immediately turns around and catches the quick screen. It seems like all the Bills except the 4 DL were playing 10+ yards off the line of scrimmage. Brown runs through a couple of arm tackles (Amano with a good block downfield) and scampers for the first down. (CA) This play may work in part because they run it like a rollout, with Bell pulling to the opposite of the play side with the snap. Then again, I can't see downfield, so I'm not sure any Bill defenders reacted to it.
B25110Strong IRun3WhiteRight Tackle
Blah, short run right side.
B2227Weak IRun5WhiteCounter Off Tackle
This is a pretty neat little play. Moulds lines up strong side, and is running in toward the formation as the ball is snapped. Hall is lined up left, and White is the setback. Once the play is snapped, Moulds blocks down to create the seal on S Whitner and Hall makes the block akin to a pulling guard on CB Webster. Because the play looks like one that's going to go inside, White is able to beat the defenders to the corner and pick up a decent little gain.
B1732Shotgun 3-WR, 2-TEPassIncR. WilliamsIn
Interesting formation from the Titans, against a Bills look showing 10 defenders within 4 yards of the line of scrimmage. Roydell runs a 4 yard in. It's enough to get the first down, but VY throws the ball too late and has to throw it behind Roydell to avoid the MLB. A quicker throw results in a first down. Credit to the Bills for confusing VY, debit VY for being being confused and waiting too long. (BR)
Drive Notes: Missed FG, 0-0, 1Q 4:14. And Bironas misses the field goal from 35, putting it all the way across from the right hash to the left hash. I half-expected Fisher to challenge the call, since I thought it might actually have crossed the uprights before tailing off too far, but no dice. A very disappointing result after a lengthy drive. Still, a couple third down conversions on on 3&short is a very encouraging sign.
B49110I-FormationRun6WhiteRight Tackle
The Titans run tackle weak side, and get a pretty good gain. Most of the Bills D seems to start strong side, then flow like it's off tackle, but the run's not that far outside. At least I think that's what happened-at the start of the play, I was seeing JP Losman on the bench.
B43242-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakRun0WhiteIso
Blah, short run up middle. To the left weak side. DT McCargo beats Piller at the point of attack, else White probably gets 5+ more yards.
B4334Shotgun BasePass8ScaifeDrag(?)
B4334PenaltyDecl.BUF-GreerIllegal Contact
B4334PenaltyDecl.BUF-KelsayPass Interference
The Bills bring MLB DiGiorgio on a delayed blitz, and he gets to VY way too easily-blame White for this, and note it's an abject example of Brown is expected to be the 3rd down back and why Fisher likes veterans. VY does well to stand up in the pocket and chuck it downfield for Scaife. It's sort of a dangerous throw, as VY is in no position to step into the throw and there were enough defenders around Scaife somebody could have deflected the pass or simply picked it off. That didn't happen, though. (CA), I guess.
B35110Strong IPass30R.WilliamsGo(?)
Play-action, then VY stands tall, surveys the pocket, and hits a sliding Roydell 28 yards downfield before the safety can come over and help. It's easy to be happy about long completions. (DO) The penalty is almost an "excuse me" offsides, but it's still nice to see VY do that with his cadence. Plus, he took advantage of the free play to throw downfield, or at least we can pretend he did.
B51GWeak IRun1BrownCounter
I don't know why the hell you run Brown here, because he's never been a between-the-tackles power runner and that's exactly what you need in this situation. The blocking isn't great, and so of course Brown gets a decent yard, no more.
B42G4-WR ClosePass2YoungScramble
VY stands in the pocket, looks. DT Williams absolutely has him dead to rights, but he manages to shake away and stumble-scramble outside. He reaches for the end zone as he's going out of bounds, but alas is deemed to have stepped out before the extension. About as exciting as a 2 yard scramble gets. (SCR)
B23GI-Form, Standard 2-TEPassIncScaifeOut
There's the story I read, I think about the great Colts WR Raymond Berry. He was playing catch with some rookie WR, and the first thing he did after catching the ball was tuck it away. Grab, tuck the ball away. Grab, tuck the ball away. On this play, play-action, followed by an attempted bootleg, but Ellison is there playing the role previously played by Schobel. So, VY tosses it out to an open Scaife in the left part of the end zone. Scaife grabs the ball, but Schobel, who'd dropped into coverage, slaps Scaife in the hands, and because the ball hadn't been tucked away, it comes out for an incompletion. Not VY's fault this wasn't a TD. (CA)
Fisher apparently decides "Screw it, it's the preseason, let's go for it." Not only that, it's an empty backfield. Ellison comes on a slot blitz, so VY sidesteps him, Posluszny can't keep contain in the spot vacated by Ellison, and it's a TD for the team in two-tone blue. (SCR)
Drive Notes: TD, 7-0, 2Q, 13:02. The Titans start with pretty good field position off an INT by Thompson, and manage to convert into points with the help of a little VY magic down by the goalline. Oh, and long passes are good ways to move down the field. I like to repeat that because I believe it's true.
T26110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRun-1WhiteRight Tackle
I'm not quite sure what this play was supposed to accomplish. It had some cool motion, with a WR moving from right strong all the way around, behind the I, to slot left, but it's a basic strong side run that wasn't particularly well blocked.
T25211Shotgun BasePass6R. WilliamsSlant Out
One of the fancier 4 yard patterns you'll see, as Roydell is lined up split left, runs a slant for 4 yards and then makes an out cut. About 2 YAC on the play. (CA)
T3135Strong I, 3-WRPassIncJonesIn/Out
VY throws an out, Jones runs an in. Tough to complete it when that happens. I have no way of knowing whose fault this is. To that end, (.5 CA, .5 IN).
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 2Q, 7:45. If you can't convert on 3rd down, you're off the field. Having the QB and the WR on the same page, running the same play doesn't seem like it should be that hard. I guess you never know, though.
Hall is in the right flat covered by S Wire. VY's pass is too tall for Hall, resulting in an incompletion. (IN) Thanks to Buffalo's wonderful broadcast, I have no idea what the formation was, as they were too busy showing other stuff.
T262103-WR, Slot WeakPenalty-5RoosFalse Start
T212153-WR, Slot WeakPass13WhiteScreen
Kind of a funky formation here, as the 2-WRs to the weak side are split way to the right, like between the numbers and the sideline, with the ball at the left hash. Same screen pass we've seen before tonight, with White not being touched for his first 12 yards down the field. (CA)
T34323-WR, Slot WeakPenalty-5OlsonFalse Start
T2937Shotgun StrongPassIncScaifeDumpoff
GameBook sez "screen"; que? The Bills rush 6 or 7, and Scaife slips out to the flat after almost pretending to block Ellison blitzing up the middle. Ellison has a hold of VY, who tries to dump it off to Scaife but can't do a good job at it. (PR)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 2Q, 5:13. Two false starts on one series = bad. Bad blitz pickup = bad. Bad + bad = punt. Rocket science this is not.
T221103-WR, Slot StrongRun6WhiteCounter
The Titans run counter to the weak side, and there's a nice crease for White to run through. He falls forward off the tackle, and that's a 6 yard gain on first down.
T28243-WR, Slot StrongRun17WhiteCutback
Did you know that when you have as many blockers in the box as the defense has run defenders you can run for good yardage? White has discovered the secret of running forward. DB Thomas, playing in the slot, has the best chance to stop him, but hesitates before attacking the hole, letting White run through the hole. A hesitant White gets tackled for no gain. A hesitant White is a terrible NFL running back. Like Brown, White seems to play his best in space, and does a good job to get additional yards. With Brown last year, this is probably an 8 yard gain instead of 17.
T45110Shotgun BasePass21DavisSeam
Davis lines up in the slot, runs downfield about 15 yards, and VY throws the ball to him. Not a great throw, but plenty effective and about 7 YAC. (CA)
B34110Shotgun Split Backs, 3-WRPass18R. WilliamsComeback
VY to Roydell on the comeback. High throw, where it's either Roydell, a tip, or nobody. (CA)
B16110Shotgun StrongPass6WhiteCheckdown
VY rolls out and is running after Posluszny comes unblocked up the middle. White had slipped into the flat on that right side, and VY hits him. (CA) White does well to roll out of bounds to save time-lazy play by Kelsay, who doesn't bother to touch White to down him inbounds. Eddie George take heart-Bills and CBS color guy Steve Tasker confuses Kelsay with Aaron Schobel!
B10243-WR, Slot StrongPass5MouldsDrag
Almost a trips right, except Scaife is lined up next to Stewart, while the WRs are to the outside of him. Moulds is in the slot there and just runs a little drag route to pick up the first down. (CA)
B51G4-WR ClosePass5-TDScaifeFlat
Bills blitz up the middle, Scaife runs a flat route, VY hits him with a quick pass, TD. (CA)
Drive Notes: TD, 14-10, 2Q, :30. This is about as easy of a 2-minute drive as you'll ever see. Pretty much every thing the Titans did worked. It was almost as if the Bills didn't even try to stop them until they got inside the 20. After a couple down drives (2 3&out's), this was a nice way to go into halftime and end the night for most of the starters.

VY pass chart:
@ Pats012.54.5313
@ Bills114.51.5122

Not much was asked of VY this game-as the high CA grade might suggest, most of his attempts didn't ask very much of him. Of his incompletes, two were created by pressure, 2 and perhaps 3 were the result of bad plays by VY, and then you have Scaife's drop in the end zone. Still, this was a great improvement over the Patriots game, and leads to more optimism for the season.

UPDATE (8/28 2335 CT): Pass chart and additional comments on VY up.
UPDATE (9/3 2057 CT): I forgot to link to my MVN summary post, posted shortly after this went up.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Thoughts on Titans-Bills

On Friday, the Titans faced the Bills in their third preseason game, and won, 28-17. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Vince Young looked better throwing the ball than he did in the first game.
2. VY's scrambling seemed to be in midseason form.
3. I still haven't seen anything, ever, from LenDale White that makes me thing he can be a good starting running back in the NFL.
4. It was nice to see another defense struggle with screen passes.
5. Roydell Williams looked very good, playing the role that we'd normally seen played by Brandon Jones of VY's #1 target.
6. Ben Hartsock is only an in-line blocker, while Scaife will line up all over the field.
7. After the Titans' struggles the previous weeks in pass protection, it was nice to see a game with no sacks.
8. It was very disappointing to see both Bironas and Vaughn miss field goals.
9. The run defense was pretty good-if I were the Bills, I'd be very worried about the money I spent on offensive linemen this offseason.
10. Both Michael Griffin and Nick Harper were burned for very long completions. That's something we saw way too much of last year. I haven't re-watched the game yet, so I can't tell if either should have had safety help, but either way that's not good.
11. Griffin was overall eh in his first start at CB. He did rip the ball away one time, but he should have been concentrating more on making sure he tackled the player.
12. Thompson had a nice INT jumping a weak pass by Losman made under pressure. But, if it's a better pass and Thompson jumps the route and misses it, that's a TD. You have to be sure, and I don't trust Thompson's ability to make a good call that way.
13. The Titans showed empty backfield a couple of times, including on 4th and goal. That's not a look we saw that often this year.
14. Haynesworth had some particularly good plays in run defense.
15. The offense looked very good in the two minute drill at the end of the first half. This was the only time I thought White looked like a semi-competent RB, when the Bills were playing prevent and the Bills weren't looking for the run.
16. I have nothing interesting to say about the second half.

UFR should be coming in the next day or two.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Programming Update

I'll be heading out of town this weekend, and won't be able to watch the 3rd preseason game, tomorrow night against the Bills, at my destination. Assuming DVR works, I plan to watch as much of the game as I can Sunday night, and any remainder on Monday. After I watch the game, I'll have the normal quick thoughts, with UFR to follow in the next day or two.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Questions about the Titans

One of the posters over at Music City Miracles had a set of 10 questions about the Titans that makes a good way to lie out some of what I believe about the 2007 Titans. Questions are in italics, and my responses are in plain text.

1. What are your expectations for Vince this year?
Little, primarily because of the supporting cast. I expect him to play overall about as well as he did last year, only without as many late game heroics--the Titans "deserved" to win about 6 games last year, and I don't think it's unrealistic to see 6 as reasonable and expected this year. This wouldn't necessarily reflect badly on Vince. I'm not really concerned about stats, but more about my subjective impression of his ability.

2. At this point, are you confident with the White-Brown-Henry trio this year at RB?
I have almost no confidence in any of them. I don't like any of them, and don't expect any of them to be above replacement-level. I appreciate why they signed Brown, and believe he was about the best fit for what they wanted-he knows the offense and can pass block. We should be concerned about all of them-I hated the Henry pick and the White picks, and believe the P(bust) for each was huge. And White hasn't shown me anything to lower it.

3. Did we upgrade the WR position over the offseason?
No-it got worse. I have perhaps even less confidence in the WRs than I do in the RBs. Jones is the WR I believe most likely to be good, and maybe the only competent one. The Moulds signing proves to me the Titans will be running the ball as much as possible-he doesn't scare anybody as a WR, but will be a professional and a willing blocker, like Jones was last year.

4. Do you agree with moving (and keeping) Griffin at CB?
No. I don't understand why you draft a player at a position of need, then move him to a position of slightly lesser need. I don't expect Griffin to be much above average as a CB this year or in 2008. That's a little bit of a wasted pick to me.

5. In your opinion, what is the strength of our O-Line?
Before the preseason, I would have said run blocking, since I thought they did a good job giving Travis Henry places to run the latter half of last season. After seeing a pretty dismal performance in the running game the first two preseason games, my new answer is that there are some good young players we can reasonably expect to improve.

6. How much will losing Pacman hurt the Titans in the return game (and field position) and how will it affect our record?
Killer. Pacman was perhaps the single best return man in the NFL, and I include Devin Hester in that statement. It's a decent sized loss, and will be felt worse in close games.

7. What player or a storyline will come out of virtually nowhere and grab major attention in Titan-land?
I have no good answer for this question. I suspect perhaps the DL, either Tony Brown or Rien Long performing better than expected.

8. Can we sweep the Colts this year?
Sure, why not? I mean, I didn't think we stood a chance in Week 5, and that was a 1 point loss. I don't place that much weight in these two games, or at least more than in any two other games, with slight bonuses for conference and divisional games, since those are tiebreakers.

9. What do you think of Norm Chow's offense?
His grade depends more on how Vince develops than on the rest of the team, simply because the other "skill position" players are so bad. The Titans have been among the 5 worst teams in the league at RB and WR for all 3 years now of Chow's term as OC. GIGO = Garbage In, Garbage Out.

10. How worried (if any) are you about Fisher getting a contract extension this year?
If there's not a contract extension in place at the start of the year, and I don't expect there to be, then I believe this will be Fisher's last year as head coach of the Titans. My reading of the tea leaves is that there's a very real possibility Fisher's coaching for his Titans future this year, and that because of that he'd rather go somewhere else when his contract runs out.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Upon Further Review: TEN@NE Offense 1H

UFR, Preseason Week 2. First half, offense. VY's 2007 debut. More UFR to come later.

T21110Weak IPassIncScaifeWheel
Bo Scaife starts as the FB, with Hartsock lined up next to Roos as the TE. Scaife runs a wheel route, out into the flat and then up the field, and VY's pass for him 8 yards downfield only makes it about 3/4 of the way there. Just an AWFUL throw by VY-generously, the ball slipped out of his hand. (IN)
Henry the lone setback. Scaife motions and ends up as the H-back over Roos, with Hartsock on the other side. The O-line does a good job with the 1v1 blocks and also getting to the second level. Harrison comes up from the safety position to trip up Henry, who also may have been able to stay up with a non-slick surface. A very good run.
T28333-WR, Slot WeakPass-3YoungSack
VY drops back, tries to set up, slips on the wet field, gets up, tries to scramble away, and gets taken down. This is a play I don't really like grading, because there's not huge fault to award, but I'm going to call it a (PR)-Mike Vrabel had rushed from the outside and aside from a chuck by Scaife before Bo went out on a pattern, hadn't really been touched. This was a more complex rush than you'll normally see in the preseason (the Pats had 3 guys to the Titans right and only brought Vrabel, the outermost guy), but the Titans didn't handle it well.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 1Q 13:49. One good play sandwiched in between two bad ones does not a successful drive make. Yes, it rained. Yes, it's VY's first preseason game. Yes, I thought they'd come up with more runs, especially since it was VY's first preseason game. Still, the NFL is a results-oriented league, and the results weren't here this drive for the Titans.
T25110I-Form, 2-WR WeakRunFumbleYoungIso
I've watched this play about 6 times, half of that in slo-mo. It's a basic I-formation run right tackle with Olson creating a seal and Stewart and Scaife on the other side, Hall leading Henry through the hole. Except, as VY's dropping back with the ball, he puts it out too early, and the impact with Hall knocks it out of VY's hands to create the fumble. Hall can't recover, Jarvis Green does, and thus endeth the drive. I toyed with the idea Hall was actually the intended rusher on the play, but he certainly didn't look ready to receive the ball, while Henry did. One note: Harrison was coming from outside Scaife on the play on a blitz and may have intended how much room Hall had to maneuver, forcing him to come farther inside than planned. I'm pretty sure this is all on VY, though.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-7, 1Q 9:52. Better to have that problem in the preseason than when games count. Turnovers deep in your own zone are always bad, mmkay?
T45110Shotgun BasePass18ScaifeDrag
Wow, this is a lot trickier than your average Titans preseason play. VY fakes the read option, rolls out a little, and hits Scaife about 10 yards downfield with a throw that just avoids a leaping Tedy Bruschi. (CA)
N371102-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakPass6HenryCheckdown
PA to Henry up the middle, then VY bootlegs a little before dumping it off to Henry about 2 yards downfield. (CA) Henry gets about 3-4 YAC before getting dragged down, for a decent little gain on first down. Bell's hold appears to be on Colvin, to prevent him from getting out to VY on the bootleg action-didn't seem like he did that much from what I can see.
N471203-WR, Slot WeakRun2HenryLeft Tackle
Moulds lines up in Brandon Jones' familiar role, over the TE strong side. They run that direction, and don't get much. The actual stop is made by Pats LE Smith, who came up the line as Stewart's lunging block at the snap missed him almost entirely.
N45218Shotgun 3-WR, Slot StrongPassIncScaifeComeback(?)
By "3-WR," I include Scaife flexed out wide to the strong right side. VY boots that direction, but a pulling Bell doesn't get a good block on Vrabel, the Pats show good pursuit, and VY doesn't have time to set his feet. I can't see quite what Scaife did, or how feasible a completion would have been here. (CA), but maybe a Pressure or Inaccurate would be more accurate.
N45318Shotgun 3-WR, Slot WeakPass7ScaifeDumpoff
VY sees a blitz coming, but the Titans a pretty reasonable job of picking it up. VY feels more pressure than there is, steps up into the pressure, and has to dump it off to Scaife near the LOS to avoid being sacked. The actual throw is an OK one, but (BR) is the grade because VY misread what was happening on the play. He looked like a QB who was not confident in what he was seeing this play-the same feeling I got from him in Week 17 last year against the Pats. Scaife gets some YAC, but doesn't stand a chance of reaching the first down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 1Q 4:09. If you don't get good QB play, you have to be exceptional in other facets of play to be successful in the NFL. The QB play the Titans got this drive was not exceptional. Nor were any of the other facets of the game. When those both are true, having a simple thing like a penalty will absolutely kill a drive.
T9110Standard 2-TERun1HenryLeft Tackle
Finnegan screws up the punt, doesn't field it, and the Pats gets 70 with the roll. What should have been decent field position becomes bad field position. Scaife is the TE left and Hartsock next to Stewart. They run left, and there's not much of a hole there. No, I didn't really come up with anything interesting to say about most short runs over the summer.
T1029Strong IRun0HenryDraw
Moulds is lined up over Hartsock and he and Hall are supposed to clear the way for Henry off the deep handoff. But, Moulds does a lousy job blocking Harrison, Hall's work is negated, and Henry doesn't get a thing. I thought Brandon Jones wasn't too bad in that role for the Titans last year, and hopefully trying out Moulds there is a preseason experiment.
T1039Shotgun BasePass11JonesOut(?)
Pretty simple play-Jones lines up outside weak, runs an out, or maybe a comeback, and VY hits him for the first down. (CA)
T21110I-FormationPassIncR. WilliamsIn(?)
Play action, pretty decent protection, and VY throws one for Williams about 16 yards downfield. Alas, Roydell is about 18 yards downfield and not able to come back to get the ball. Bad throw. (IN)
T21210Weak IPassIncMouldsGo(?)
This time it's Hartsock, left side, who's lined up as the FB and Scaife right side flush to the tackle. Another deep drop off play action, and the throw is for Moulds down the sidelines, about 35 yards downfield. The throw looks pretty well placed, at least after Moulds makes an adjustment for it. Watching it on replay, though, it's clear that the throw is late and/or underthrown, as Moulds has to stop or at least slow down his route to wait for the ball. This also lets Rodney Harrison come over, and he makes a good play to bat away what would otherwise have been a nice completion. (.5 CA, .5 IN) to deal with the dual nature of the play.
T21310Shotgun BasePenalty-5YoungDelay of Game
T16315Shotgun StrongPassIncRobyFlat
VY with the boot to the strong side, with Bell again blocking Vrabel and not doing a great job at it. He throws to Roby about 5 yards downfield (on 3&15, why?), and Roby can't come down in bounds. Not a great throw, but Roby should have come down inbounds. Not that it would have mattered much on 3rd down. This is a play where all-22 would really come in handy, to see if VY had any better options for where to throw the ball. (.5 CA, .5 IN)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 1Q :23. One good throw = one third down conversion. Three mediocre to bad throws = end of drive.
T231102-TE StrongRun2HenryIso
Short run behind Stewart and the TEs. Plow into the line for 2 yards.
T2528Weak IPassIncMouldsDrag
Ah, a familar pass for Eric Moulds-QB with a deep drop, run over the middle, try to catch the ball 2 yards downfield. This time Junior Seau is in the area. Throw is a little low, but Moulds definitely should have had it. (CA)
T2538Shotgun BasePass9YoungScramble
The Pats bring a blitz, and in doing so, create a lane to VY's right. He sees it, smartly takes off, gets the first down, and gets out of bounds without taking a hit. This is not visually spectacular like some of his other runs, but it's a very effective one, especially on 3rd-and-long. (SCR)
Play action, deep drop, pressure coming and VY throws it across the field for Jones. Into double coverage. NOT a good idea, as this pass could easily have been intercepted. Plus, VY takes a hit on the play from Colvin, whom Scaife didn't block particularly well. (BR)
T34210I-Form, 3-WRPassIncJonesDrag
VY with another deep drop. He steps up into the pocket, and tries to hit Brandon Jones over the middle. Only his throw is behind Jones. And also short of Jones 17 yards downfield. (IN)
T34310Shotgun StrongPass12R. WilliamsIn
T34310Penalty-5StewartIllegal Formation
First, the penalty. Stewart is lined up pretty far off the LOS, as is Roos on the other side. I think the Colts did it at least 10 times a game last year-it's something that seems to happen a lot, and the officials hardly ever call it. I'd hoped the NFL would make it a point of emphasis this year, but that didn't happen. On the play, VY stands tall in the pocket as it collapsed around him, and has a low, but good enough, throw to Roydell for 12 and what would have been a first down. (CA)
T29315Shotgun 2-TEPassIncMouldsIn(?)
And, on the play after Stewart gets flagged for doing something lots of teams, but particularly the Colts, did last season, Roos does the other thing, jumping the snap count and getting away with a false start. On the play, VY has a decent, but high, for Moulds 23 yards downfield, and Gay makes a decent play to prevent the completion. A better throw is lower, and Gay can't bat it away. (.5 CA, .5 IN) may be a little harsh on VY, but I'm not inclined to grant too many breaks to somebody who isn't throwing well.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 2Q 9:53. VY: scramble good, throw bad. Throw bad = bad. Drive Notes eloquent. Understated simplicity. Avoiding fluff. Pass happy drive. Bad with QB playing badly.
T411102-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakPenalty-5JonesFalse Start
A half-decent gain on a half-decent run up the middle supported by half-decent blocking.
T382132-TE Strong, 2-WR WeakPass-8YoungSack
T38213PenaltyDecl.[Moulds]Illegal Motion
Moulds is still running across the formation, and isn't set for a second when the play is snap, thus drawing the flag. It's impossible to know whether this was Moulds' fault or VY's for snapping the ball too early. VY takes a deep drop, takes a deep drop, surveys the field, and is sacked. (BR) may seem like an odd grade, but there was plenty of time for him to make a decision, scramble around for a better passing angle, make a sandwich, etc., and he didn't do it. He evens looks at Henry for the dumpoff, but decides to hang on to the ball. Bad decision, and graded accordingly.
T30321Shotgun 4-WRPass-8YoungSack
Blame this one on Chris Henry. Rodney Harrison is coming from outside Stewart on a blitz. There's another potential blitzer up the middle, and Henry moves there, never seeing Harrison. VY doesn't have a chance. (PR)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 2Q 7:42. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Nobody looked good this drive.
T261103-WR, Slot WeakPassIncRobySmoke
VY takes a quick drop, and throws immediately to Roby in the slot to his right. Alas, Roby had taken a step sideways, whereas it looked like VY was expect him to take a step forward. (CA), I guess.
T262102-TERun-1HenryOff Tackle
Run left, behind Scaife in a slot/H-back formation. Roos is not able to get a seal on Green, allowing him to make the tackle on Henry.
T25311Shotgun StrongPassIncRobyCurl(?)
VY stands in the pocket, gets off a throw to Roby in the slot to the right side. Harrison comes over the top to prevent the completion. Ah, well. (CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-17, 2Q 3:34. Hey, the Titans did run the quasi-mandatory one ineffective rush that drive. And the passing game continued to sputter. When you're under 3.0 YPA passing, you're in trouble.
T39110I-Form, 3-WRPass22RobyIn(?)
VY takes the drop, rolls outside to see what happens (what I criticized him for not doing, if you'll move your eyes up a little), and finds Roby downfield. Another low throw, but one good enough and a completion. (CA)
N39110Shotgun StrongPass-8YoungSack
So, Henry reads the block properly this time and moves to block the blitzing LB Seau. And does an awful job at it, allowing Seau to get to VY. (PR)
N47218I-Form, 3-WRPass44ScaifeDumpoff
Scaife lined up as the FB here, and he and Henry stay in to block. VY chucks it to him as he's being taken down, and it's actually well-blocked from there. Scaife is able to get tons (~50) YAC, before being brought down at the 3 yard line. If I wanted to be unbelievably generous, I'd call this a middle screen, since it worked out like a perfectly executed one. (CA), I guess, though if Scaife had been tackled for no yardage, I'd probably say VY should have thrown the ball away.
N31GWeak IRun2HenryOff Tackle
The Pats' telecast shows it's not only the big regular season networks who will totally miss the start of the play. The run is probably designed to go more inside, but Henry sees an opening to the outside and cuts it to go outside. Alas, he stumbles around the 6, else he scores easily on the play. That failure notwithstanding, it's nice to see a Titan RB make a decision to cut outside who also has the speed to make it pay off.
N12G2-TERun0YoungQB Sneak
The Titans try to get off the play quickly, to catch the Pats off guard, but it doesn't work. Hall lines up as an H-Back TE here, over Roos, probably to try to spread out the Pats defenders and help the sneak.
N13GStrong I, Standard 2-TEPassIncWallace?
I've tried to minimize my complaints, but damn have the production values for this broadcast sucked. You can't see who catches the kick, or anything else that happens quickly. Like on this play, I see that VY throws the ball into the end zone. And Hall and Wallace were both in the general area of where the ball went. Apparently Wallace did get his hands on it, per Don Criqui. But Criqui (and Randy Cross) never realized Chris Henry never touched the ball on the fumbled handoff earlier, so I don't believe either of them. On the play, Henry correctly picked up Colvin on the blitz, but showed his physical limitations as Colvin simply overpowered him and pushed him backwards toward VY. (CA), I guess.
N14GWeak I, Standard 2-TERun0YoungBootleg
VY on the boot on 4th down, with a pass option. The Pats aren't surprised by the call (I wasn't), and have it decently strung out. I think VY's best option was to work more off the block of Amano, but he goes inside and tries to find a lane. Alas, it doesn't work.
Drive Notes: Downs, 7-17, 2Q :22. A fitting end for a throughly mediocre first half offensively. One of the Titans' strengths last year was the red zone offense. They finally make it there with their starting QB, and phfft they go.

Passing chart:

@ Pats012.54.5313

VY got a little better as the game went on, at least in the sense that he stopped making lots of awful throws. Hey, awful to mediocre is part of why the Football Outsiders prediction for Tampa Bay is so good this year.

UPDATE (8/19 2305 CT): Pass chart up. More updating to come, likely.
UPDATE (8/20 0020 CT): I have a post on UFR up at Total Titans.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Preseason Game 2: @ Patriots

A couple quick comments:
1. Wow, the Patriots' preseason production values suck. I'd rather watch the average televised high school game, since at least then you can typically see all of the action on a single play, even if the focus isn't as good. And the announcers typically aren't any worse than Don Criqui and Randy Cross were. I wouldn't claim the Titans' preseason TV crew is a model of sparkling excellence (Eddie George freely admitted he didn't know the name of Jacob Ford or Antonio Johnson, the two rookie draft pick DLs who have been lost for the year), but they were, comparatively speaking, a breath of fresh air.
2. It's nice to win a preseason game.
3. VY did not excel.
4. The pass rush was good.
5. For the second straight game, the first team offensive line did not look very impressive.
6. For the second straight week, the running back who started the second half looked better than the running back who started the first half.
7. Dontrelle Moore got more carries at RB than I expected.
8. It you're either an optimist or a pessimist (me) with regard to the Titans' prospects this year, you saw something to support your opinion this game.

Assuming my DVR doesn't quit working again, I'll have some UFR up tomorrow or Monday-probably first half offense.

UPDATE (8/19 2010 CT): Uh, I left out the "not" in #3 above.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Upon Further Review: WAS@TEN

Hey, I finally finished work before 10 on the same day my DVR worked. Thus, UFR. Alas, other commitments (more of the stuff I couldn't do earlier in the week) prevented me from doing much of it. But, here's the first two drives.

W45110Standard 2-TERun1BrownStretch
Moulds running right to left across the formation as the ball is snapped. After the snap, Mawae and Bell pull. Marcus Washington comes outside of Bell's block and is able to grab Brown by the ankles as he's passing by. Brown falls forward for a yard. Whatever you want to say about Travis Henry, and I said a lot last year, he didn't get tackled much on plays like this one.
W4429I-Form, 2-TE StrongRun2BrownOff Tackle
The Titans open with another outside run, this one to the right strong side. Daniels is able to get good leverage on near TE Hartsock, not just standing his ground but pushing him back a yard, then free releasing to stop Brown after a gain of 2.
W42373-WR, Slot WeakPass13ScaifeDrag
While the formation is listed on 3-WR, Scaife is actually in the slot to the left side, while Hartsock is the TE right. Hartsock and Brown stay in to block as the Redskins bring an LB on a delayed blitz. Collins has no room in the pocket to step up after a 7 yard drop, but is able to find Scaife going left to right across the middle of the field just past the first down marker. Scaife picks up about 5 YAC before Springs brings him down.
W291103-WR, Slot StrongPassIncScaifeRun Drag
Again, 3-WR, but Scaife is in the slot. He and Hartsock run a sort of short cross/rub route right off the line of scrimmage before Scaife continues on the same sort of pattern he ran before. Collins' pass goes right to London Fletcher-Baker, who kindly drops the gift-wrapped interception. But this actually wasn't Collins' fault at all, as Kedric Golston deflects the pass. Blame this one on Eugene Amano, who can't force Golston to keep his hand down.
W29210I-Form, 2-TE StrongPass2BrownCheckdown
Play-action, and another deep drop on this play. Golston has another good play, pushing Bell way back into the backfield. Collins, feeling the pressure, hits Brown 2 yards downfield, and Chris is immediately tackled.
W2738Shotgun 4-WRPass-9CollinsFumble
I know it says "4-WR," but I'm pretty sure Scaife was in the slot left and Hartsock was in the slot right. Collins takes the snap, drops back to pass and loses the handle. There didn't appear to be any issues on this snap, so this one is all on Kerry. Even better, it takes the Titans out of field goal range.
Drive Notes: The preseason is the time for getting in shape for the regular season. Like your offensive linemen remembering how to block, and a QB and center with 25 years of experience getting a shotgun snap done right. And running the ball effectively, like carries for more than 2 yards. Credit where credit is due, Collins did have a good pass to convert the third down. One outta six ain't that bad, I guess. Okay, it is.
W28110I-Form, Standard 2-WR, WR RightRun5BrownLeft Tackle
Brown with the run left side. Good 1v1 blocking, with Hall hitting LB Washington lurking behind the line. And Brown runs smack ahead right into Hall. That's my kind of observation skills. He does eventually try to run forward not into another person, but by the time he does there's not that much room. If it sounds like I'm not saying Chris Brown made a good play, it's because I don't think he did. He did fall forward for an extra couple yards, though.
W2325Weak IPassIncHallThrowback Screen
The Titans fake the strongside (right) run and look to throw the screen back to Hall, who has blockers in front of him. Only when Mawae released Salave'a to go block on the screen, he didn't slow Joe down at all. Collins is under pressure, and doesn't have enough time to make an accurate throw to Hall.
W2335Shotgun 3-WR, Slot WeakPassIncRobyOut
There's no blitzing in preseason! Tell that to Gregg Williams, who brings 7 on this play and gets to Collins in a hurry. Roby lined up slot left and runs into the flat near the third down marker, but Collins doesn't have time enough to get a good throw off to him and the ball falls short and incomplete.
Drive Notes: Good field position wasted again, as the Titans can't get two decent plays together in a row. At least Bironas manages to hit the field goal from 41.

Tomorrow sees Tennessee's second pre-season game, this time in New England against the Patriots. Alas, this one will appear on NFL Network on tape delay, tomorrow night at 11 PM CT. I may actually do UFR for the rest of the first half tomorrow evening and get it up then. UFR for the New England game will hopefully appear over the weekend. If you want to a preview of the New England check, out of Total Titans tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Schedule Update

I plan to do Upon Further Review for the first half of last Saturday's preseason game against the Redskins. UFR, however, depends on (1) my DVR working and (2) finishing work before 10 P.M. The last time both (1) and (2) were true was Saturday. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Preseason Game 1: v. Redskins

The Titans fell in tonight's preseason opener to the Washington Redskins, 14-6. Check out my liveblog and game recap, both of which appear over on Total Titans. I hope to have UFR for at least the first half of offense up tomorrow, with more UFR, both offense and defense, later this week. UFR will still appear in full here, but I will have UFR summary posts over at Total Titans. I also recommend keeping up with Total Titans for all your day-to-day Titans news.