Titans Preseason Observations From Week 1
The first team offense looked efficient in their only appearance which ended in a touchdown. For the most part in Titans first primetime showing, the o line seem to be comfortable in the blocking scheme with few miscues.
I don’t have a numerical based breakdown, but the play calling is visibly different which includes more first down passing. Analytics have shown that the most efficient down to pass is first down. Good to see that we may be taking better advantage of that this year.
Wide Receiver route combinations are noticeably creating more space for receivers to get open and run free in the intermediate part of the field. Matt LaFleur has stated this is a big part of his offensive philosophy. On numerous drives there were opportunities for the QB to hit a wide open receiver either with a step on their defender or running completely free in the flats or intermediate level of the defense. The downside is that it also seems quite obvious that it generally takes QBs time to grasp the concept of this type of offense in that there were a lot of missed wide open receivers albeit mostly from the second and third string QBs. This scheme looks to assist a wide receiver group that many believe does not possess depth or high-end talent.
The running game appears to have more juice than last year with less power running straight up the middle. There were numerous times in the game where runners popped a run to the outside for 5 or more yards. The offense is appearing to test the edges in creative ways on the ground.
Two separate runs occurred where the offensive line had no issues of sealing the edge. That left side as a whole looked good all game. There were quite a few examples of twins and trips receivers where the Titans ran the opposite side
Lashaun Sims flashed and did exactly what you should expect from him. He competed with Green Bay’s number 2s and 3’s and locked down lower depth chart level receiver talent. It’s been exciting to see his growth as a player.
Jayon Brown will probably be relied on heavily this season given how thin the Titans inside linebacker position looks to be at the beginning of the season. Generally a good tackler, he had a couple of instances where he missed big in key situations. Despite the misses he was everywhere, so I will chalk these up as anomalies and knocking off the rust.
The defensive line seems to have picked up where they left off last year at run stopping and flashing good push up the middle and holding up at the points of attack. Daquan Jones certainly made his presence felt at run stopping. He and Wormesly both generated good push up the middle consistently. Austin Johnson which is one of my favorite even showed up on tape. If this group continues to build on last year at being able to control the line of scrimmage, it will tremendously help out the other two levels of the defense and most notably the ILB group that let one of the best run stuffing linebackers walk in Avery Williamson.
Taywan Taylor playing on the outside. I really like this and it seems to go with overall theme of moving players to spots where they excelled in college instead of moving players out of position immediately coming into the league. Vrabel has already said that his philosophy entails letting players do what they are good at and over the course of time developing his guys to do other things. I see teams drafting players all the time and asking them to play out of position fresh into the league. In some cases this may make sense, but I have never understood this approach in developing a player. With that said, Taylor still needs work at catching balls cleanly. I’m not going to put the “yips” label on him, but when the ball goes his way, often times a mishap ensues and when he’s completely free, QBs don’t look his way. Just something to watch.
The screen game was in full effect. Still needs work, but one did bust for a big gain unlike in 2017
The defensive secondary struggled mightily with the deep ball. Not sure exactly what to make of that yet, however most of the breakdowns can be attributed to a few players and 3rd string depth. This has been discussed endlessly, but at this point I believe it is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions.
Special teams look solid for the second year in a row. Nick Williams and Akrum Wadley look to be capable return men. Williams did well, but one thing to watch is Williams bobbles. He bobbled twice on two punt returns.
This season is going to be exciting. There is a ton of pressure on the Titans this season. It should be fun to see how they handle that.