Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Oct 2009

How You Fail on 15 Straight Pass Plays

On the Titans blog I write at, I took a look at how the Titans were unable to complete any of their last 15 pass plays against the Jets on Sunday. No pretty pictures or diagrams, just narrative about how nerve-wracking it is to pick out overload blitzers.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 02 Oct 2009

16 comments, Last at 05 Oct 2009, 12:05pm by RickD


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 1:27pm

Thought it was going to be about Jamarcus Russell ... perhaps his 41.3% completion rate for the season isn't as bad as I'd thought ...

by Skummy (not verified) :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 1:41pm

Yes, that was my exact thought as well. Shocked to not see silver and black featured here.

by knappster :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 7:29pm


by Temo :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 1:39pm

"Tom, we're going to have to talk about the number of hours you've been billing lately. Or lack-there-of."

- Tom's boss shortly after he finished this 2,500 word post.

by Tom Gower :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 7:07pm

For the record, the post was written Wednesday night, at home, not at work.

by Temo :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 11:28pm

Great work regardless of where you did it.

by Mike Kurtz :: Sat, 10/03/2009 - 9:55am

Time at home is still work hours. In fact, each hour counts half, since you're distracted by non-work related things.

by Bobman :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 1:59pm

As much as the Colts may have needed Jake Scott last season, I am glad to see he's "contributing" to this dubious historic event.

by langsty (not verified) :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 3:11pm

great stuff tom

by Joseph :: Fri, 10/02/2009 - 3:18pm

Oof. Hopefully, as a commenter pointed out on the blog, that 2 ST turnovers really made the difference in this game. Will be a GREAT chess match with Ryan vs. Payton this Sunday.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Sat, 10/03/2009 - 4:14am

A chess match would be great, but I'm hoping for something that necessitates a much more aggressive metaphor... Something along the lines of two Vikings just beating the crap out eachother with war hammers. Ideally, I want (to jump metaphors to boxing) haymaker after haymaker, first one side, then the other. I want whoever the broadcast team is to say something along the lines of, "Well, [team A] played a great game, but [team B]'s gameplan and execution were just too good" at least twice... Preferably 3 times.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 10/03/2009 - 11:41am

Couldn't agree more. It's entirely possible that we're going to be seeing the best offense in the league going against the best defense, and I think each team's other unit is pretty competent too. Should be great.

Terrific article, Tom. I'm pretty sure the Jets are for real - was that your feeling watching this game?

by Tom Gower :: Sun, 10/04/2009 - 1:08am

DISCLOSURE: I haven't watched the Jets closely, so this is mostly based on a close viewing of TEN-NYJ and HOU-NYJ while focusing on the Texans. This is my personal opinion, and I haven't discussed it with anybody else, so please don't quote this as "FO thinks," because it's not.

It depends on what you mean by "for real". Like the 2004 Steelers, they're doing an excellent job of scheming to create good opportunities for a rookie quarterback while primarily relying upon the running game. For the Steelers, with Parker and Bettis, that was a possible strategy. With Thomas Jones as your feature back, I'm less sold on it. And, once you get beyond the schemed stuff, I'm not sure how much Sanchez can do. The Jets had four scoring "drives" against the Texans-two on short fields set up by Mouton fumbles, one on the opening kickoff (scripted), and one whose only first down was a 46 yard pass. It really wasn't that productive of a day against a defense that had been giving up 350+ in the pass game.

So, really, they'll live and die as their defense goes. And, Tennessee was moving the ball against them for a quarter and a half in which they put up 17 points. The Jets then started bringing more pressure, because really they had to-if Tennessee or anybody else gets to 24 against the Jets, you win. And, when you bring pressure, you have to be able to cover. With a corner like Revis and WRs like the ones the Titans have, that's a battle you can win. Against a team like New Orleans, with Brees and multiple credible WRs, I'm skeptical.

Can you win 12 games with a team like that? Absolutely. Can you win 7 games? Sure. Picking somewhat abstractly, I'd say they're good for 9-10 wins and a borderline playoff team, but with a DVOA ranking more like the current 9th than the 17th sported by last year's 9-7 team.

by Mr Shush :: Sun, 10/04/2009 - 7:07am

Fair enough. I watched the first half or so of Jets@Texans (before Gamepass gave up the ghost for the week) and parts of the Titans game. My feeling is that they may be the best defense in the NFL this year (though not on the level of last year's astonishing Steelers and Ravens units). Ok, so the Titans, with their outstanding offensive line and running backs, were able to move the ball on them until they adjusted. On the other hand, they were able to shut out a Texans offense which has had little trouble gaining either yards or points against the Titans, a likely top 10 defense, or the Jaguars, who I don't think are awful on that side of the ball. I'm guessing their true DVOA is in the -15% to -20% range, and I don't think there is any really great defensive unit in the league this year. As to the offense, Jones may not be an especially wonderful RB, but Washington's a quality change of pace, and far more importantly their offensive line is at least as good at run-blocking as the 2004 Steelers (4th in ALY), and significantly better in pass protection. They might have the best line in football. For my money, best defense in the league + best offensive line in the league + competent skill position play = Superbowl contender. I may well, of course, be completely wrong, but I think we're going to be seeing two of the four best teams in football go head to head when they play the Saints this evening.

by Sheldon (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:56am

I can't believe I'm typing this, but the answer to the Titan's problems is Vince Young. If they keep losing I wonder if there will be a public outcry for him.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:05pm

Young is not the answer, but neither is Collins.

The real puzzle is how the D has fallen apart, esp. after they looked good against Pittsburgh.