All 22 Review: Titans Offense vs Lions Defense (In the Trenches)

Happy Holidays to you and yours once again. Hopefully you are done with all of the shopping for your loved ones. That way you can focus on the impressive slate of games coming up over the next few days. The Titans offense was delivering gifts in the forms of stiff arms and touchdowns.

It was an impressive outing Sunday vs the Detroit Lions. A balanced attack was deployed that saw the offense taking advantage through the air and dominating the ground game. There was plenty to like it in the play calling, leaving very little to complain about.

One of my favorite series of the game was when Derrick Henry, on a first and 10, takes a zone play to the outside for seven yards. What was other-worldly about this play was the ferocity with which Henry threw another human being to the ground. I don’t know how Alex Myers stayed in the game. I would have probably faked an injury after that.

The next play saw the Titans attempt a naked boot. I generally hate this play call, but the Lions bit hard on the play fake and Tannehill was open for what seemed like 50 yards. After making a quick decision that no options in the flood concept were open, Tannehill took off with the ball and beat multiple defenders with angles on him to the front pylon. Malcolm Butler was not the only one shocked by Tannehill’s wheels this weekend.

One of the few bad plays for the Titans during the game was the safety that was given up by David Quessenberry. I wrote last week about Quessenberry missing a cut on quick game and how it impacted that play for the Titans. Here is another example, but this time Q seems to have missed the call altogether, thinking he needed to cut the end man to keep the defenders hands down and out of the throwing lane. No other Titan is running a quick game concept in blocking or route combinations. In fact, A.J. Brown appears to be attempting an out-and-up double move, which would explain why Tannehill was holding the ball so long.  Quessenberry did seem to indicate he realized his mistake right after the play.

I wanted to again call out a couple of players prior to the illustrated breakdowns:

  • Jonnu Smith was involved in the passing game again, and this offense really seems to flow when he is able to contribute. The greatly improved blocker is able to make tough catches and rack up YAC.
  • Darrynton Evans was finally healthy and set free towards the end of this game. He made a very nice play on a screen, which Bill Ott (@Super_Horn) broke down quite nicely earlier this week. Evans also showed burst in the running game late filling in for Henry during garbage time.

This offense has nice complementary plays and players to go to throughout each game. I had so much fun reviewing the tape from this game, I found myself re-watching most of the plays and having to remind myself to go on to the next one.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the plays that contributed to the Titans runaway win, but first, my notes:

Game Notes:

  • 14:26 1Q – The Titans are running play action with a 12-yard dig to Davis and a deep comeback to Brown on the other side of the field. Tannehill’s first read appears to be to Davis on the dig, but the Lions are ready for it, dropping two defenders in the under coverage and having a corner over the top. They also have a safety ball hawking and coming downhill to make a play if Tannehill throws it. Great read by Tannehill to find a dump off route that was wide open – he knows if the Lions have committed two defenders underneath, then the short route must be open. He looks and quickly finds Henry in the flat. The throw is on a line, on time and out in front of Henry. Henry is able to make an easy catch and not have to break stride to pick up six yards. Not a huge play on the stat sheet, but it kept the Titans on schedule, setting up a third and two, and did not risk a potential turnover by forcing it to Brown.
  • 13:50 1Q – Once again I wanted to point out how the little things just add to Brown and his success in one-on-one or contested situations. Brown appears to be running a 10-back-to-8 stop route, or comeback. But what he does at the top of the route is what allows this play to be successful (along with Tannehill throwing a determined on-target pass). Brown runs his defender all the way to the 10-yard mark, and instead of immediately coming back down hill, he boxes out for a second, recognizes that the ball is on the way, and is able to time up his two-yard separation away from the corner right as the ball arrives. It seems simple, but there are a lot of players that would just run that route from 10 to 8 and then have a tougher catch when the ball gets to them because they did nothing to keep the defender away from the actual target area. This also freed up more space past the sticks for Tannehill to throw into to allow Brown to make a play.
  • 0:29 2Q – Corey Davis motions over into trips formation to the right. The outside routes are running off to create space underneath. Davis stems to the inside, giving the impression that he might be running to the middle or the field or back to the left. Davis is then able to step on the toes of the defender at about ten yards and round out into an out route at about 12 yards from the line of scrimmage. Tannehill makes a great timing throw and hits Davis in stride for the first down.

White Board Reviews:

13:13 in the 1st, Henry OZ – 4 yards

Use the arrows to scroll through the galleries below:

  • Smith goes in motion to get the Lions to shift and hopefully give the Titans the advantage after overloading the left side
  • The Lions shift the line and take a defender over to motion with Smith
  • Now the Titans have essentially one-on-one on the play side with Kelly, Davis and Jones
  • Kelly steps out, looking to overtake the defensive end
    • However, the end stunts inside of Kelly
    • Kelly loses leverage and the defender is able to make a play in the backfield
  • Jones and Davis are working the 1 technique up to the playside backer
    • Initially, Davis tries to give Jones a hand but misses giving any kind of help, he looks to be rushed to protect Kelly’s inside.
    • Jones is not able to overtake and the 1 tech is able to get penetration
  • This happened quickly and Davis might have been able to take over for inside stunt from Kelly and then have Kelly climb to backer
    • What makes this difficult is Davis’ initial step is to help Jones so his first step is not flat enough to overtake the stunt from Kelly
12:37 in the 1st, Smith 19-yard seam

  • Titans motions Evans out of the backfield and line him up behind Smith in the formation

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