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.
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.