Self-Publicity Note: The PDF version of Football Outsiders Almanac 2013, went on sale Monday evening in the Football Outsiders store. This is Football Outsiders' annual volume covering the NFL, with in-depth chapters on every NFL team, team and player projections, comments on as many key fantasy football players as we can fit in, some college content, and other good stuff. I was back on the Titans beat for this year's book. The essay covers some familiar themes from here, plus some other things, and unlike basically all of my work here was not only edited by someone else but was the subject of multiple revisions. In addition to the Titans content, I also wrote about the Texans and did the main Cardinals essay.
After covering how Jake Locker was intercepted, I turn my attention to how the Titans intercepted the passer in 2012.
When I did this series in two parts last year, I noted the Titans intercepted fairly few passes, but I wasn't sure I was care. It's hard to judge just how many interceptions a team should have, and it's a particularly inconsistent stat from year to year on the defensive side of the ball. That's one of the reasons I found it so curious Gregg Williams-led defenses kept ranking at the bottom of the league when it came to intercepting passes. I speculated an improved pass rush would lead to a better interception rate in 2012, but I wasn't sure I should care.
As it happens, the Titans did have a better pass rush in 2012 and did intercept opposing passers at a higher rate. They finished with 19 interceptions on the season for an interception rate of 3.4%, fifth-best in the league. Again on the defensive side of the ball, though, how the Titans got their interceptions matters as much or more than how many interceptions they got. Thus, this two-part series. I'll cover the games before the bye week in this post, then conclude the series with a look at the other interceptions and some tentative conclusions.no comments
After covering the run offense, the pass offense, and the run defense in previous posts, it is now time for me to conclude my look at how the Titans performed in the red zone in 2012 with a look at their defense against the pass.
I noted in yesterday's post, the Titans struggled in the red zone in 2012. The run defense declined compared to 2011, particularly close to the goalline, but the pass defense was where we saw most of the decline. In 2011, the Titans finished 18th in red zone pass defense by Football Outsiders' DVOA as opponents completed 50% of their passes. In 2012, the Titans finished 29th in pass defense DVOA as opponents completed 63% of their red zone passing attempts.
Looking at how opponents fared in the red zone in 2012, one thing that stands out is the Titans only had 2 sacks on 84 dropbacks. That's an unadjusted sack rate of 2.4%, worse than the previous season's 4.1%, and less than half the league's unadjusted average of 5.1% (including scrambles among sack chances). I didn't pay any attention to field position when I wrote about how the Titans got their sacks, though that series covered just how the Titans got their sacks, not how they didn't get sacks. If you wish, though, you may blame Chad Henne only getting 4 red zone passing attempts in two games combined for the Titans' lack of red zone sacks.no comments
After covering how the offense fared in the red zone in 2012, both on the ground and in the air, it's time to turn my attention to the defensive side of the ball. I'll cover the run defense in this post and conclude the series with a look at the pass defense in my next post.
I noted in last year's post the Titans fared fairly well in the red zone in 2011, ranking ninth in percentage of opponent red zone possession that ended in a score with 48%. Things changed in 2012, for the worse. Significantly so. The Titans allowed their opponents to score a touchdown on 64% of red zone possession in 2012, good for a ranking of 30th in the league. The Titans were worse outside the red zone on defense, so it's no surprise they were worse in the red zone, but that's a fairly dramatic difference.
Overall, the Titans faced 93 rushes in the red zone in 2012. Of those, 44 were successful, a Success Rate of a 47%. That's a tick better than the league average, which was about 48% in 2011 and 52% in 2012.no comments
I covered the run game yesterday, and now it's time to turn my attention to how the Titans threw the ball in the red zone in 2012.
After 2011's strong red zone performance, the Titans struggled there in 2012. They finished 27th in passing DVOA and 28th in overall offensive DVOA. They scored a touchdown on half their red zone possession, tied for 22nd in the league, after getting one on nearly 60% of their red zone possessions last year.
Last year, I split my look at the red zone passing offense into two parts, one dealing with the quarterbacks and one with the wide receivers. Since Matt Hasselbeck won't be around in 2013, I won't cover what he did in any detail. While Hasselbeck was the man under center for half the Titans' red zone touchdown passes (5 of 10), Jake Locker was the quarterback for the majority of red zone pass plays (34 of 61, 56%) and will be the starting quarterback this year.no comments
Red zone performance is something that can have a big effect on how often teams win and lose. As I chronicled last offseason, the Titans had mixed results in the red zone in 2011. The passing game was pretty good. The rushing offense, well, it was very good close to the goalline and pretty miserable between the 5 and 20. Overall, the Titans were very good at converting red zone opportunities into scores. Could they improve the run game and sustain the good play in the passing game?
In a word, no. By Football Outsiders' DVOA metric (perma-disclaimer: I write for FO), they ranked 27th in passing offense in the red zone. They ranked 27th in rushing offense in the red zone. Put the two together and they ranked 28th in overall red zone offense. They were even worse closer to the goalline, ranking 29th by DVOA in goal-to-go situations. Conventional statistics view them slightly more favorably, but only slightly. Of their red zone possession, precisely half ended in scores. That was good enough for a 22nd-place ranking. Like 2011, they got to the red zone hardly at all, edging out only the Jaguars.
I'll cover the run offense in this post, then follow up with a combined look at the passing offense, followed by looks at the passing defense and the rushing defense. As with last year's series, these will be stat-based looks rather than tape-based.no comments