Sometimes stats aren’t as important as tendencies and patterns. This week’s tendency can be expressed as the number 104.
This is the personnel package the Titans love early in the game. I saw it in all 3 of their games this year. It consists of 1 running back, 0 tight ends, and 4 wide receivers. For most teams, this is a personnel package that screams pass. Not so for the Titans. They love to use the package early in the game to give the defense a passing look. But in reality, they are handing off to Chris Johnson.
It’s a great package for Tennessee because it creates a lot of space for Johnson. And Chris Johnson in space is deadly. The defense has one of two choices. They can play nickel. Or they can stay in their base formation and add another responsibility for the safety (usually on the strong side of the formation). Either way, the package forces the defense to stretch out horizontally across the field. And this benefits Chris Johnson.
Against the Raiders and Giants, the Titans used this personnel package a lot. Both of these teams play 4-3 defenses. Against the Steelers—a 3-4 defense—the Titans used it less. But it could simply have been that the Steelers jumped out on the Titans early and Tennessee went away from their game plan quicker. You can be sure the Titans will show this package to the Broncos today, however.
If you see the Titans come out in this personnel package, you can turn—right before the snap—to your wife, girlfriend, or your buddies, and you can call the play for Johnson. If you’re in a sports bar, stand up and scream, “They’re handing off to Johnson here!” Maybe there will be a hot girl wearing a Tebow jersey at the bar who always wanted to end up with a defensive coordinator.
You can thank me later with a throwback jersey. I’m partial to Simon Fletcher, in case you were wondering.
Before I get to today’s limerick, I want to point out a few other miscellaneous items that have crossed my mind this week (or in the last few minutes);
1) The Titans also like to test out a Vince Young option play early in the game. If the play is successful, they will keep using it. Watch for this today. It will happen. It will also come out of their 104 set. Against the Raiders, the Titans ran it on the first play of the game for 44 yards. The Crypt Keeper must have almost self-combusted. The idea of this excites me.
2) The Titans have been aided by turnovers and great field position on special teams. Of all of the NFL teams, their special teams yardage (average starting field position) contributes more to their total drive length (average yards per drive) than any other team in the league.
3) Dan Gronkowski did a good job of blocking last week, despite the Broncos’ mishaps on the goal line. I believe you will see Josh McDaniels use this same personnel package again, but this time, Gronkowski will be getting the ball in the flat.
4) When will the Tim Tebow show be making another appearance? You know McDaniels isn’t just going to try the Tebow package once this year.
5) In their second game of the season, the Titans saw the Steelers take back the opening kickoff on a reverse. It fooled the Titans badly. The Broncos have seen this tape, too. Don’t be surprised if you see Denver try this on one of their kickoffs.
6) If you haven’t noticed, Kyle Orton is on pace for 5,700 yards passing. I’m just sayin’...
6) Jeff Fischer does have a cool beard.
Pregame Motivational Limerick
Orton’s Cash Money, Homie
In ‘84 Dan hit 5k,
but Kyle’s not too far away.
You are shaking your head?
Now doubt gets put to bed
as Kyle rains down bombs today.