Game Previews

Digesting the Titans

Happy Friday, friends.  I hope you enjoyed Tom Gower’s thoughts on the Titans that we posted earlier today.  He’s a respected writer who contributes to Football Outsiders, and we’re happy to have his work appear at our humble site.  My work likewise appeared over at his site, and I only hope that the readers at Total Titans find our contribution up to their normal standards.

Since Tom gave us some Titans thoughts, I said to myself, “Self, maybe you should go light, or even skip the Digesting piece, and just leave it to their “inside” guy who’s really familiar with the team.”  I considered doing so for a few minutes, but y’all know me: I like excess.  More is better than less.  That said, here are some observations on the Titans:

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Titans Q&A with Tom Gower

Total Titans approached us about collaborating with their site to preview Sunday's game by exchanging some questions and having a writer from each site provide insight on their respective teams.  Below are my questions to Tom Gower and his answers; Tom writes for TT and also contributes to Football Outsiders, and we appreciate his time and effort.  In turn, I answered some questions from Tom which have been posted here.

Ted - Would you say that the schemes of the Titans have changed significantly with the new coaching regime in place, and if so, how?

Tom - In the run game, I haven't seen much of a change.  In the passing game, the wide receivers are having to do much more reading of the defense and route adjustments than were apparent in Mike Heimderdinger's offense, where they pretty much had to run the route of the play as it was called. As you might expect from a wide receiving corps that doesn't have a lot of experience, that's been a work in progress.  Matt Hasselbeck is also a much different quarterback than Kerry Collins and Vince Young.  Particularly with Young, the Titans were a downfield passing team (they led the league last year in frequency and success rate of passes 21-30 yards downfield).  Hasselbeck doesn't have the arm to threaten defensive vertically like that, but is a much more precise thrower on short and intermediate passes, which he used to great effect in picking apart the Ravens' zones last week.

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Fat off the Bone: Week 2 - Bengals

Last week we took a look at the Raiders and their preference for motion and use of the single tight end in most of their personnel packages.

In order to give the Broncos something they hadn't seen on tape, the Raiders started the game with even more motion and several three-back sets.  It was a sound strategy by Hue Jackson; it took the Broncos several series to adjust.

You should expect to see a wrinkle like this each week from the Broncos' opponents.  They know the Broncos watch their last three to four games and chart formations, packages, and tendencies, just like we are doing.   So they've got to surprise the Broncos, even if only for a drive or two.

This week we take a look at the Bengals.  Unlike the Raiders, it does us absolutely no good to scout any games from last year. The Bengals have a new offensive coordinator with a West Coast philosophy and a different quarterback in rookie Andy Dalton.  Anything we might have learned from last year would have been wasted.

So we've got a one-game sample from which to scout these cats--not preferable, but better than a kick to the family jewels.

Let's see what we can glean.

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Digesting the Bengals

Happy Friday, friends.  When we last talked I was depressed, and really down on Kyle Orton.  Today I’m doing fine, and I’m still really down on Kyle Orton.  A few of his cheerleaders on this site tried to get me to argue with them about Orton’s suckitude, but I have a long-standing policy of not arguing; I just say what I think.  Besides, their rationalizations are about as meaningful to me as a billboard is to John Fox.  He trusts his eyes, and I trust mine.  This article is not about Kyle Orton, though, so let’s get down to the business of digestion.  (Hat tip to broncosmontana for suggesting the title in last week’s comments.  We’re going with it every week.)

Game Watched : Week 1 at Cleveland

Bengals Defense

a.  My general observation is that the Bengals seem to have two tactics that they use frequently: They either line up in a Cover-2 look and play Cover-2, or they line up in a blitz/man look and blitz and play man-to-man.  There’s very little effort to disguise what’s coming on defense, or to disguise who is blitzing when they blitz.  They’re keeping it simple and trying to just go out and execute, and that kind of makes them parallel to the Colts' way of playing offense, except that the Colts (with Peyton Manning) are a lot better at executing on offense than the Bengals are at executing on defense.

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Fat off the Bone: Week 1 - Raiders

Several weeks ago, we explored the basics of personnel groupings and how they can quickly tell you how a team wants to attack its opponents.  There's a good reason we got that out of the way before the start of the season: We're going to now put those groupings to the test as we scout the Oakland Raiders.

The goal (at least the stated goal) of these reports is to provide you something akin to what teams get as they prepare each week.

Typically, defensive players will get a report from the advanced scouts that look at the last three or four games of their opponent.  The reports focus on personnel groupings, formations, tendencies, and general tips that will be helpful.  They are generally short and to the point and include diagrams and visuals.  The groupings and formations are always framed in the language of the defensive team's lingo.  So while the offense may have terminology of their own, the scouting reports will be in language of the defense.  In short, the offense may be speaking Latin (or Pig Latin in the case of the Raiders), but the defense is still going to translate the groupings and formations into their own native tongue. E tu, Butkus?

This immediately presents us with a problem.  What language do we use here at Fat Man?  Simply put, something that even the most mainstream of fans will understand.  This means personnel groupings will be referenced by numbers instead of terms (212 will be used to describe 2 RBs, 1 TE, and 2 WRs instead of the term "Regular"); formation descriptions will be kept to a minimum and displayed visually when there is any chance for confusion.

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Opposition Research: Oakland Raiders - Week 1

Happy Friday, friends.  Can I talk frankly?  Yes, I think I can.  Since I started my football writing “career” back in 2008, I’ve always been kind of a loose cannon.  I’ve mostly avoided agreeing to put myself in any boxes, rather than to generally say that I’ll have something written on this day or that day.  A lot of times, if I have something due on Friday at noon, I’ll have no idea what I want to write about when I’m driving home after work on Thursday afternoon.  I just like to let stuff go from my mind to my fingers to the screen.  It’s kind of like being a 30-something dude who lives with his parents and won't date a chick for longer than three months because he doesn’t want to grow up.

Well, I went and agreed to produce a recurring feature on Fridays as part of our game lead-up package, which is going to be just outstanding, even if it isn't scantastic.  I don’t have a fitting gluttony reference for it yet, so I’m just going to call it Opposition Research, because that's what it is.  Basically, I plan to watch some recent video of the upcoming opponent, take some notes, and then talk about some non-obvious things that I saw, particularly stuff that you can't get just by looking over a couple box scores.  Then, I’ll talk about what the Broncos can do to be successful in light of those observations.  Pretty straightforward, right?  Here goes, as we break down Tranny Nation after the jump.

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Pregame Thoughts: Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos

Happy Friday, friends.  With Game 2 of the preseason happening tomorrow night, I decided to share some thoughts on what I’ll be looking for in the game.  I think we learned some stuff in Game 1, at least at a cursory level, and that we’ll have a good opportunity to learn and evaluate more tomorrow.

1.  Does personnel grouping on offense still seem to follow the QB?  Last week, Kyle Orton played with a lot of 21 and 22 personnel, while Tim Tebow had a lot of 11 personnel, and Brady Quinn had a lot of 12 personnel.  It will be interesting to see if those concepts continue.

The implications are that when Orton is on the field, the offensive staff sees itself as a running/play action operation, and that to some extent, Quinn follows that.  Tebow’s typical package places more of a premium on spreading out the defense with the formation, ostensibly to create running lanes for Tebow, and angles for the kinds of throws that he makes the best.

Tebow has a different skill-set than Orton or Quinn, so it’s no surprise that they’d have different play-calling.  I wonder if this recent media push to claim that Quinn is #2 stems from thinking within the coaching staff that any in-game change at the position is best handled by a player who is more well-suited to running the same game plan as the starter.  In that case, I could still see Tebow getting some snaps in games using specialty packages, even as the nominal #3 QB, while Quinn sits behind Orton, waiting for an injury or ineffectiveness in a game.

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Fat Man’s Five-Course Meal, Week 6: Broncos - Raiders

Here at Fat Man, we think you deserve more than just football analysis. 

You deserve a nice meal, too.  So in the spirit of food and drink, we present to you our weekly analysis of the upcoming Broncos game and opponent.  May you leave a little wiser.  And with a full stomach. 

This week, we’re gonna chow on the Oakland Raiders.

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Fat Man’s Five-Course Meal, Week 5: Broncos - Jets

(Note:  Doc Bear contributed to this tasty meal)

Here at Fat Man, we think you deserve more than just football analysis.  You deserve a nice meal, too.  So in the spirit of food and drink, we present to you our weekly analysis of the upcoming Broncos game and opponent.  May you leave a little wiser.  And with a full stomach.

The Appetizers (Big Picture) - Because everyone needs a little snack right when they walk in the door.

The New York Jets come into this game the darlings of the NFL.  After a razor-thin loss in Week 1 to the Ravens, the Jets have rolled off four straight wins against quality opponents like the Patriots, Dolphins, and Vikings. 

Offensively, the Jets come into the game ranked 1st in the league in rushing yards per game and 3rd in rushing yards per play.  That’s fortunate for them, because the Jets run the ball like they’ve got Earl Campbell in the backfield.  They are one of only five teams in the league that run the ball more than they pass (52% of the time).  One of the potential pitfalls for the Jets last season was interceptions. QB Mark Sanchez has dramatically improved in this department this year.  He has yet to throw even one interception.

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Big Fat Stat Preview (and pregame limerick, too!) - Broncos/Ravens

Quick, who is last in the league in turnover margin? 

Detroit?  Buffalo? San Francisco?

If you guessed the Raiders, you almost got it.  They are tied for 24th.  And it’s always a legitimate guess to place the Raiders as the worst in any category. 

But how many of you guessed the Baltimore Ravens? 

That’s right.  The Ravens are officially minus-7 on the year in turnover differential.  Dead last in the league.

And yet this is a team that is 3-1.  So what do we make of this turnover stat?

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