The Tennessee Titans are coming off one of their most disappointing losses in recent memory and it’s time to break the offensive side of the ball down on this week’s offensive forecast.
But before we start, there’s going to be a lot of terminologies used that may sound subjective so let me do a quick reminder of what qualifies as a successful, stable, and negative play.
When you hear something qualifies as a “positive play” that means at minimum, the player netted enough yards to stay ahead of that particular down and distance.
Example: To keep it simple, on 1st and 10, if the runner gains four or more yards with no penalty, that would be considered a positive play since two similar results on the next two downs will give the team a first down.
Second example: Should the runner get three straight plays of three yards or less on a 1st and 10, that would then be considered either a stable or negative play depending on what happened in that particular situation.
Note: ALL big gains, first downs, touchdowns, positive penalties, etc., count as positive.
Also: Any sack, Tackle for loss (TFL), incompletion, negative penalty, or short gain counts as stable and/or negative.
Now that we have covered all that, let’s take a deep dive into Tennessee’s personnel packages from last Sunday’s game.
11-personnel (3WRs, 1TE, 1RB)
Out of the 70 plays called out of 11-personnel, 33 of those play calls netted a positive result (≈47%)
To get more specific, here’s a breakdown by quarter:
1st quarter – 12 plays were called out of 11-Personnel, SIX of those netted a positive result (≈50%).
- THREE of those 12 were positive pass plays
- TWO of those 12 were negative/stable pass plays
- TWO of those 12 were positive run plays
- THREE of those 12were negative/stable run plays
- ONE penalty on each team
2nd quarter – 13 plays were called out of 11-personnel, SIX of those plays netted a positive result (≈46%).
- FIVE of those 13 were positive pass plays
- SIX of those 13 were negative/stable pass plays
- ONE of those 13 was a positive run play
- ZERO Negative run plays
- ONE accepted penalty on the Titans
3rd quarter – 10 plays were called out of 11-personnel, FOUR of those netted a positive result (≈40%).
- TWO of those 10 were positive pass plays
- TWO of those 10 were negative/stable pass plays
- TWO of those 10 were positive run plays
- THREE of those 10 were negative/stable runs
- ONE Holding penalty on the Titans
4th quarter – 21 plays were called out of 11-personnel, 11 of them netted a positive result (≈52%).
- SEVEN of those 21 were positive pass plays
- SEVEN of those 21 were negative/stable pass plays
- THREE of those 21 were positive run plays
- THREE of those 21 were negative/stable run plays
- ONE Defensive pass interference on the Jets
Overtime – 14 plays were called out of 11-personnel, SIX of those netted a positive result (≈42%).
- THREE of those 14 were positive pass plays
- SEVEN of those 14 were negative/stable pass plays
- TWO of those 14 were positive run plays
- ONE of those 14 was a negative/stable run play
- ONE offside penalty on the Jets
Final 11-personnel numbers
- 70 total plays
- 33 positive plays (≈47%)
- 37 negative/stable plays (≈52%)
- 44 total pass plays.
- 20/44 pass plays were positive (≈45%)
- 24/44 pass plays were negative/stable (≈54%)
- 20 total run plays
- 10 of those were positive run plays (50%)
- 10 of those were negative/stable run plays (50%)
- THREE penalties on each team
- SIX sacks allowed by the Titans out of 11-personnel (6/7)
- All overtime plays came out of 11-personnel
12-personnel (2WRs, 2TEs, 1RB)
Out of the 19 plays out of 12-personnel, 12 of those play calls netted a positive result (≈63%).
Here is the breakdown by quarter for 12-personnel:
1st quarter – FOUR plays were called out of 12-personnel, ALL FOUR of them netted a positive result (100%)
- TWO of those 4 were positive pass plays
- ZERO negative/stable pass plays
- TWO of those 4 were positive run plays
- ZERO of those were negative/stable run plays
2nd quarter – THREE plays were called out of 12-personnel, TWO of those netted a positive result (≈66%)
- ZERO of those 3 were positive pass plays
- ZERO of those 3 were negative/stable pass plays
- ONE of these 3 were a positive run play
- ONE of these 3 were a negative/stable run play
- ONE penalty on the Jets
3rd quarter – SIX plays were called out of 12-personnel, TWO netted a positive result (≈33%)
- TWO of those 6 were positive pass plays
- ONE of those 6 were negative/stable pass plays
- ZERO of those 6 were positive run plays
- TWO of those 6 were negative/stable run plays
- ONE penalty on the Titans
4th quarter – SIX plays were called out of 12-personnel, FOUR of them netted a positive result (≈66%)
- ONE of those 6 was a positive pass play
- TWO of those 6 were negative/stable pass plays
- THREE of these 6 were positive run plays
- ZERO of these 6 were negative/stable run plays
Final 12-personnel numbers
- 19 total plays
- 12 positive plays (≈63%)
- 7 negative/stable plays (≈36%)
- 8 total pass plays.
- 5/8 pass plays were positive (≈62%)
- 3/8 pass plays were negative/stable (≈37%)
- 9 total run plays
- 6 of those were positive run plays (≈66%)
- 3 of those were negative/stable run plays (≈33%)
- One penalty on each team
10-personnel (4WRs, 1RB)
One play was called out of 10-personnel, ZERO of those plays calls netted a positive result (0%).
- incomplete pass
13-personnel (1 WR, 3TEs, 1RB)
Out of the FIVE plays called out of 13-personnel, THREE of those play calls netted a positive result (≈60%).
- Three positive runs
- One negative/stable pass
- One negative/stable run
21-personnel (2WRs, 1TE, 2RBs)
Out of the TWO plays out of 21-personnel, ZERO of those play calls netted a positive result (0%).
- ONE SACK allowed by the Titans out of 21-personnel (1/7)
- ONE negative/stable run
22-personnel (1WR, 2TEs, 2RBs)
Out of the THREE plays out of 22-personnel, TWO of those play calls netted a positive result (≈66%)
- TWO positive runs
- ONE negative/stable run
01-personnel (4WRs, 1TE)
The Titans called ONE play out of 01-personnel, ZERO of those play calls netted a positive result (0%).
Personnel Groupings main takeaway
If the Titans’ offensive tackles don’t start to drastically improve in pass protection, Tennessee may be better suited to play more 12-personnel instead of 11-personnel so their TEs can help out along the edge. Six sacks out of one package is simply unacceptable.
Three Things I Liked
Ryan Tannehill’s poise and toughness
It’s not exactly a secret that Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has taken a beating this season. He’s been sacked a league-leading 17 times this season and has been tallied for 32 quarterback hits through four games.
Despite the turnstile protection up front, Tannehill is playing incredible football given the circumstances surrounding him.
According to PFF, The Titans’ quarterback has received a 90 for his grade through the first four games of the season.
Understandably, last Sunday wasn’t Tannehill’s best or most flashiest outing, but he did have some moments that make you wish he consistently had better blocking upfront.
On a day where he was short-handed out wide and sacked seven times, Tannehill was awesome in the crucial moments of the game. The Texas A&M product put together a 12-play touchdown drive to take the game to overtime where he displayed the type of poise, toughness, and leadership you want to see out of your franchise quarterback.
Tannehill threw for 57 yards to four different receivers to set up the game-tying, two-yard touchdown throw to his fifth different receiver (Cam Batson) on the drive.
The overtime drive unfortunately didn’t have a similar ending. Tannehill led a 15-play drive where they shot themselves in the foot one time too many. The offensive line allowed their seventh sack early in the drive and later had a backbreaking delay of game that ultimately made things harder than they had to be.
This offense has the potential to flourish once Tennessee gets their two superstar receivers back into the lineup. Sadly, I don’t know of any reinforcements that are coming along to help protect him.
Use of Jeremy McNichols in the short passing game
One of the more underrated aspects of this young season has been the effectiveness of Jeremy McNichols. On a day where the Titans were extremely short-handed out wide, the Boise State product was undoubtedly Ryan Tannehill’s most consistent weapon in the passing game.
McNichols was both explosive and decisive with the ball in his hands. The Titans’ running back was a mismatch anytime he got into open space regardless of whether Tennessee got the ball to him on a quick check down or on a designed screen pass.
On this screen pass above, McNichols catches the ball and uses his blockers to take advantage of the defense’s aggressive momentum. As he cuts back inside of Saffold, McNichols then realizes the sideline is free so he sets up the defenders to create enough leverage to be able to break outside. Once he’s there, it’s just a race down the sideline.
In the third quarter, Tennessee went back to this same screen and connected for another 17-yard chunk play. Center Ben Jones patiently attempts to sell the run block before pulling left and clearing the way for McNichols to break inside as he catches the ball. The Boise State product then follows Saffold as he reads another block by Josh Reynolds to help seal the defender just enough to allow McNichols to get the first down.
In this next play, Tannehill does a great job at identifying that McNichols is manned up one on one with a linebacker who is slightly out of position. He then just allows McNichols to catch the ball and race C.J. Mosley to the first down mark.
On this final play, Tennessee takes advantage of a Jets frontline who were pinning their ears back to try to get after the quarterback. McNichols pretends he’s pass protecting before turning, catching, and going upfield with the ball for 14 yards.
I know there’s often a lot of misplaced hate within the fanbase when McNichols comes in, but it’s time he starts to get the appreciation he’s rightfully earned. We all agree that he doesn’t need to be in the game on crucial third-and-short scenarios, but the Boise State product has earned a valuable role on this team.
The offense is constantly moving the chains
Last Sunday, and for much of the year, the Titans’ offense has been able to sustain long drives. The problem Tennessee is having is when it comes to finishing those drives with touchdowns. For the second time in three weeks, the Titans generated at least 30 first downs in a single game. They produced 33 first downs against Seattle and 30 in New York this past Sunday.
In fact, from Weeks 2-4, Tennessee has produced the most first downs over three weeks in franchise history (87). They also currently lead the league in most offensive plays ran with 305 in total (169 passes, 136 runs).
There’s plenty of signs that show that the potent offense we’ve come to love in Tennessee is still in there somewhere. However, in order for the Titans to really reach their ceiling, this offense is going to have to start connecting inside the red zone.
The Titans’ red zone offense is scoring touchdowns on 50% of their trips inside the 20. That’s down from approximately 75% over the last two seasons. Tennessee needs to start inching their red zone efficiency closer to the 70-75% threshold they’re accustomed to if this offense is ever going to maximize their full potential.
Did not like
Allowing seven sacks
In Week 1, the Titans allowed six sacks to the Arizona Cardinals, five of which came from Chandler Jones alone.
At least with the Cardinals game, you could point to one Hall of Fame-caliber guy who was completely wrecking the game. Against the Jets, the Titans allowed anyone and everyone to disrupt Tennessee’s offense.
According to Next Gen Stats, The Jets pass rush pressured Ryan Tannehill on 21 of his 56 dropbacks (37.5% pressure rate). Four different Jets defenders (John Franklin-Meyers, Bryce Huff, Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins) all generated 6+ pressures, tied for most in a game by any defense since 2016.
To put New York’s dominance into better perspective, coming into the game, the Jets had six total sacks and 21 pressures through the first three weeks. Last Sunday alone, New York produced seven sacks and 21 pressures in four quarters of play.
This first sack below is just an all-around disaster. By the time Tannehill finishes his play fake and tries to go through his progressions, David Quessenberry has gotten beat off the edge so Tannehill can’t slide right, Geoff Swaim gets driven behind midfield so he can’t slide left, and Henry does a poor job at identifying his man so Mosley gets a direct B-Line on the quarterback up the middle.
The second sack below is the only one that I felt was solely on the quarterback. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing confirmed this at Thursday’s press conference when he said they “missed the hot” on the first drive. Everyone is manned up on someone therefore Tannehill should have known that if Quincy Williams blitzes, that means absolutely no one is on McNichols.
The Boise State product recognizes this as he gets his head turned around once he realizes his man has rushed yet the ball never arrives. Tannehill must do a better job of identifying that presnap, but I believe he was just trying to see if something developed downfield. Unfortunately, he didn’t have that type of time. Throw the hot, get what you can, and live to fight another down.
The third sack below is one that I felt Tannehill shared some of the blame, but Quessenberry and Lewan definitely didn’t help him either. Tannehill tries to avoid Quinnen Williams who confuses Lewan by twisting around the edge while he’s already engaged with another defender.The veteran quarterback then tries to slide right but Franklin-Myers viciously bull rushes and disengages with Quessenberry in order to meet the quarterback to clean it up. Tannehill did seem to have some underneath receivers he could have possibly gotten the ball out to, but that’s asking a lot with those two defenders getting in with little resistance.
The fourth sack below is truly a disaster by the offensive tackles. Lewan at least touches his guy and offers minimal resistance around the edge, but what happened to Quessenberry is downright unacceptable.
Jets do a solid job of disguising this, cornerback Bryce Hall pretends he is going to man up on Firkser while linebacker CJ Mosley is showing blitz. However, at the snap, the roles flip and Hall blitzes while Mosley covers the tight end. Quessenberry doesn’t realize this so rather than kick sliding to beat Hall to the spot, he instead chooses to help with Franklin-Myers which leads to a Kill shot sack on the quarterback.
The fifth sack below is just a beautiful play design by Robert Saleh and impeccable execution by Quinnen Williams. The Jets have two inside linebackers lined up in the A-gaps who are showing blitz. They drop into coverage at the snap forcing the line to identify someone else to block. Williams then faints like he’s going to engage with Ben Jones but as Sheldon Rankins occupies Nate Davis, Williams stunts around and has a direct shot on the quarterback.
The sixth sack below is the play where I truly got jealous over another team’s linebacker. Throughout the game, Tennessee started to find success with bunch formations against man coverage to help their struggling receivers to create more separation.
The Titans motion Nick Westbrook-Ikhine to a bunch set on the left, Mosley recognizes it this time and changes the defense from man to zone. The last-second change confuses Tannehill just long enough for Rankins to complete his Bullrush on Davis which forces Tannehill off his spot and into the grasps of Williams.
This was absolutely beautiful work from Mosley. Watch him as he recognizes what Westbrook-Ikhine is doing and how it instantly clicks that his defense is in a bad spot.
That’s the type of cognizant understanding of the game that you want from your inside linebacker.
The seventh and final sack of the game occurred in the overtime period. This is simply another unacceptable play out of your starting right tackle. Bryce Huff simply uses his speed to go around Quessenberry. Fortunately for the Titans, Tannehill hit Chester Rogers on a 20-yard pass that helped extend the drive despite this backbreaking sack.
Final Sack blame:
Sack 1 – Henry/Swaim
Sack 2 – Tannehill
Sack 3 – Quessenberry/Tannehill
Sack 4 – Quessenberry/Lewan
Sack 5 – Davis
Sack 6 – Davis
Sack 7 – Quessenberry
Taking Henry out on crucial downs
One of the more infuriating developments this season has been Derrick Henry not being on the field for some crucial third-and-shorts. Earlier in this article, I made the argument that McNichols has earned a place in this offense. Third-and-short is not that place.
One of the perfect examples of the Titans getting too cute was on this 3rd-and-inches play. Rather than feeding their superstar running back who is averaging close to five yards per carry, they decided to take their biggest asset out of the game.
Not only that, they decided to get into shotgun with a backup center in this situation and it went about as poorly as you might expect.
Henry finished the day with 157 rushing yards and has over 500 yards in four games. It would probably be wise to trust him to be able to get you a yard or two in those situations. Or at the very least, leave him in as a decoy, but there’s no reason why the biggest bruiser in football doesn’t need to be in the game on the bruiser downs.
Five things I want to see against the Jaguars
- The first sack-less shutout of the season
- Improved red-zone efficiency (FINISH DRIVES)
- Feed A.J. Brown early and often so he can start getting into a rhythm
- Enforce will with Derrick Henry
- Continued use of McNichols and Henry in screen game to counteract overly aggressive defenses.