I did last week in a single installment, but the second preseason game, a 27-19 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati gets two posts. In this first post, I'll cover my impression of how the Titans played on offense, in the same sort of position by position overview. I'll cover the defense in tomorrow's second installment.
General disclaimers apply to this game in spades. Preseason production values meant the start of plays were missed. Camera work, while better on the Bengals telecast that is part of NFL's Preseason Live than it was for last week's Titans telecast, was still not up to regular season quality (aside from the stupid "zoom in on the QB's head as he's taking the snap"; they're up there with Fox in that category). This post was done without the coaching angles, including both the overhead and end zone angles, aside from some replays, so judging things like running lanes, passing windows, and coverages is an exercise in educated guessing. What I write below, as is the case in about every post I write, is what I saw and think, not definitive statements of fact.
1. Jake Locker (35 snaps)
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick (28 snaps)
3. Rusty Smith (12 snaps)
A week after a blah game that featured a lot of dumpoffs, the Titans seemed to come out with a clear gameplan for Jake Locker. That gameplan seemed to be focused on getting the ball out quickly. For the most part, this worked very well. He was victimized by a few drops and passes that could have been caught. The one downside is I had him only 2 of 7 on throws more than 10 yards downfield, though he completed 3 of 4 passes I had as 9 yards downfield. Two of those five downfield incompletions were a drop and a pass defensed you'd like to see the receiver catch.
Fitzpatrick threw some nice balls, including downfield. No, I'm not saying he's better than Locker in that regard or is good at throwing downfield or should be challenging Locker for the starting job. After noting Locker's performance on deeper throws, Fitzpatrick's 5-5 just stood out to me (his 4-8 under 10 yards is not impressive). As a backup QB in a preseason game, about all you're looking for anyway is a non-disaster who gives wide receivers a chance to make plays. Fitzpatrick did that. Rusty Smith couldn't, because the deeper the game got the worse the offensive linemen were relative to the defensive linemen.
1. Chris Johnson (20 snaps)
2. Shonn Greene (15 snaps)
3. Jackie Battle (21 snaps)
4. Jalen Parmele (8 snaps, incl. 1 at FB)
5. Darius Reynaud (12 snaps)
Collin Mooney (21 snaps)
Chris Johnson did Chris Johnson things-he looked good running through a hole. He looked arhtymic. He may have misread a block that would have put him in the secondary. He had 17 yards on one carry, 7 on another, and was 5-7 on the other carries. His production is still largely a function of the first-level blocking.
Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle both ran hard, because that's what they do. Both had opportunities for big plays if they could make a player miss at the third level. Neither did that, because that's not what Shonn Greene or Jackie Battle does. Greene converted a third-and-1, while Battle did so on a third-and-2. Battle caught a dumpoff. Greene's screen was blown up by a smart veteran cornerback who beat the guard to the spot.
Parmele got hurt the one snap he played fullback. He had two carries, one the giveup draw on the last play of the game and the other not well blocked. Reynaud didn't touch the ball on offense.
Mooney reminds me of Quinn Johnson stylistically. If he can line up and blast a guy, he'll blast a guy. if he has to lock on and destroy, he's less good at that. There were a couple run plays where I thought his man made the play to hold the Titans to a short gain. There was also one counter play where he lined up his guy and blasted him. No snaps at halfback and his only touch came on a checkdown to the flat.
This is still a little complicated, but here's a rough depth chart:
1. Kenny Britt (32 snaps)-Nate Washington (31 snaps)
2. Michael Preston (37 snaps)-Damian Williams (39 snaps)
3. Roberto Wallace (8 snaps)-Justin Hunter (20 snaps)
1. Kendall Wright (17 snaps) (slot)
2. Hunter (Williams in slot)
3. Preston (slot)
Kendall Wright once again only played in 11 personnel. Damian Williams taking his snaps in the slot should be a smooth transition. I noted Williams in my game recap as a guy who stood out against second teamers; that mostly held up, but the one pass he did a good job getting low on was more of a pure drop than I thought it was on first viewing, so downgrade him slightly. Still a player I think will be valuable for the Titans. Fellow members of the drop/should have caught there were Britt, Washington, Preston, Wright (for falling down), and tight end Jack Doyle.
I couldn't tell quite what Michael Preston did to get so open on his long touchdown; my best guess is the corner tried to reroute him and failed miserably. I did not expect to see him in the slot, where he played at the end of the game.
Washington, Williams, and Wright had four grabs each. Washington looked like a solid veteran receiver; I still see when I watch him why I thought the Titans might cut him, but you also see why the Titans like him.
The Titans need to run something other than spot out of bunch, though we might have to wait until the regular season to see it.
1. Craig Stevens (30 snaps)
2. Jack Doyle (42 snaps)
3. Brandon Barden (22 snaps)
Another pretty quiet night for the tight ends. Doyle dropped a pass on third down in the red zone that probably likely have been a conversion. Barden had a couple flashy catches, including for a touchdown and on a fourth down conversion, but nothing fancy. The touchdown came on a flat from inline with Preston running an out and up to prevent the corner from stopping him, while the linebacker didn't close fast enough. The fourth down conversion the Bengals basically conceded by playing off. Craig Stevens, Superstar Receiver is waiting for the regular season to be unleashed.
1. Michael Roos (35 snaps)-Andy Levitre (35 snaps)-Fernando Velacso (35 snaps)-Chance Warmack (35 snaps)-David Stewart (28 snaps)
2. Byron Stingily (28 snaps)-Kasey Studdard (40 snaps)-Chris Spencer (32 snaps)-Rob Turner (32 snaps)-Mike Otto (28 snaps)
3. Daniel Baldridge (12 snaps)-Studdard-Eloy Atkinson (8 snaps)-Oscar Johnson (8 snaps)-Barry Richardson (19 snaps)
Geno Atkins gave Andy Levitre absolute fits. Just fits. Ran him ragged. Run plays. Pass plays. Particularly pass plays. I think not wanting to see how the line did against a Bengals defensive line I highlighted before the game was part of why the Titans did what they did with the passing gameplan. On the third-and-1 Greene converted, Warmack took Devon Still and just shoved him way out of the way. There was also one play where he gave up a pressure because he seemed to think it was a screen; it was not.
Run blocking for the most part went better than pass blocking. Battle and Greene helped flatter the run blocking a bit, as backs who run forward aggressively and intelligently with power tend to do. In addition to Levitre's struggles, the only other lineman who stood out was Velasco, and his was also in a negative way. I wouldn't say it's Rob Turner's job, but it's clear why the Titans have yet to rule Brian Schwenke out of the competition. I long considered Velasco a heavy favorite for the start at center, but it seems the Titans may be tired of his limitations.
Turner is not any more of a right guard than Velasco was last week. Studdard once again did not impress me. Otto and Stingily are the two best backup offensive tackles the Titans have.
Offensive Personnel Groupings
Snap counts are the official ones from the NFL. These are my count:
11: 39 snaps
12: 12 snaps
20: 1 snap
21: 16 snaps
22: 6 snaps
With only one true fullback in the lineup, the Titans played 2-back a lower percentage of the time than they did the first game. Once Mooney got his snaps, he was done, and I did not see him in the game on any of the final three possession. The result was all one-back sets. I had the Titans in 11 personnel on the final 17 plays of the game. Some of that was probably a function of being down and time pressure, but that probably skews the overall numbers a little bit.
Once again, Damian Williams was the sole wide receiver on the field in 22.
I noticed two plays the Titans were in a straight-I rather than an offset one.
On the whole, the Titans had a much more consistently successful offensive performance than they did the first preseason game. Jake Locker ran a simple passing game pretty efficiently. The direct running game worked fairly well, thanks to both the blocking and the performance of the non-CJ backs. The pass catchers could and should have given the quarterbacks more help. That showed up most prominently close to the goal line. Andy Levitre will be very glad he is not likely to face Geno Atkins again.
Defense tomorrow, likely.