All-22 Review – Titans Defense vs. Steelers Offense

A lot of talk this week about what needs to be fixed with the defense following a loss to the Steelers. If you’ve been reading this series, the feeling is this is more of the same from this unit. What stood out this game was the polarity of the halves. But, the end result was really the same. The defense was reliant on the offense to score 30+ points in order to win the game. For the first time since week 1, the offense didn’t hit that mark, and it resulted in the first loss of the season.

Let’s get right into it.

Coverages and 3rd Down

The Titans strategy was generally more of the same this week. The team ran a varied mix of man and zone throughout the game. Given the completely different outcomes between the halves, I expected more pronounced changes in strategy, but we really didn’t see that. In the second half, the team ran slightly less man coverage, however not enough to suggest a wholesale change. This is the first game where I’ve noticed a decent amount of quarters, which is a welcome change. As this becomes more prevalent, we can get into more detail about the mechanics of the quarters defense. In general though, it allows the safeties to become more involved, and lets players get downhill better. It’s not a magic bullet, but it will be interesting to see if this pattern continues and if they mix in more quarters in the weeks ahead.

The Titans were awful on 3rd down all game. Yes, in the second half they allowed “only” 60% conversions. That’s still terrible. In fact, this team is historically bad on 3rd downs.

What’s the root of this problem? Let’s get into the film to better understand what’s happening.

Tactical Errors

High level, here’s the way the Titans want to organize their defense. They want to be strong inside, and up front, keep plays in front of them, and force the offense to beat themselves. They’ll give up short throws for potential 1st downs on 1st and 2nd down in order to avoid explosives. When they get to 3rd down, the defense gets much more exotic with how they show pressure pre-snap, and attack fronts.

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Author: Bill OttFilm nerd. Relentless defender of Derrick Henry. A recovering Vince Young apologist. Bill has been a Titans fan since 2006. A former All-22 writer for Music City Miracles, he continues to try to educate himself and the Titans fan base. You can find him on Broadway Sports as a frequent contributor of all things film related.


  1. I appreciate how you have patiently reviewed each week and given us a front row seat to your developing perspective on what’s going awry with the Titans’ D. It sharpens me as a critical observer of football to follow your perspective.

    I feel a lot like you and Graver in regard to the difference Adoree will make when he returns. The way he puts it that taking Tye Smith off the field and adding Adoree back on is a pretty huge swing.

    I feel like this is especially true given that everything ailing this defense is particularly tied to third down – which is a graceless down of inches gained or missed, covered or separated and of split seconds during which the ball is held or not.

    Our CB situation is objectively about the worst in the league with only one starting caliber veteran in the mix for the first 6-7 games. And CB is truly the most important position on D in today’s NFL.

    Fix CB, with health and/or one of those savvy trade ideas of yours, and this defense will be elite. Do both, and we will be elite with requisite depth for a playoff run.

    We all know too well the difference between a bottom 5 player and a top 5 player at the most important position on offense. This year, we get to learn that reality on the defensive side.

    I’m not trying to campaign for a trade, here. But how amazing would this D be if we did trade for another high end corner talent that we could pair with Adoree and Malcolm. We would swing from worst CB group in the league to best in a single week. It’d be pretty sick.

    I get the expense associated with taking on Gilmore. But it sounds like that expense would be less than what Logan Ryan wanted (and we wisely refused) this offseason. Just a subtle reframe to the idea of such a trade. That CB trio could feasibly stop the Chiefs super-trio of receivers. I’m not sure what we have now, even if healthy could do so.

    Then the question becomes, “Would our LB tandem be able to stop their RB tandem – either in coverage or vs. the run?”

    I know y’all go a lot on your plate but would love to read any reflection you have to offer in response to my long-winded thoughts here.

    Thanks again.

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