The FiveThirtyEight study I quoted earlier this week found that teams that start 1-1 make the playoffs 41% of the time versus


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The FiveThirtyEight study I quoted earlier this week found that teams that start 1-1 make the playoffs 41% of the time versus

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Winners and Losers from Titans 20 http://www.titansfootballauthentics.com/malcolm-butler-jersey-authentic , Texans 17 It’s hard to overstate how important this win was for the 2018 Titans. In addition to staying out of an 0-2 hole, the Titans got a critical division win despite being without their starting left tackle, starting right tackle, backup swing tackle, starting tight end, and starting quarterback. This team showed incredible grit and toughness in the face of adversity coming off one of the most soul-crushing losses in recent memory. It would have been easy to make excuses and feel sorry for themselves in this one, but they didn’t do that, even when the Texans put up 17 unanswered to take the lead in the 4th quarter. They remained composed and fought their way back to get the win. Titans fans should be proud of the way this team responded to a tough week.Without further ado, here are the winners and losers from Titans 20, Texans 17: WinnersMike VrabelThis one is easy. Vrabel stole a game his team had no business winning today with great coaching. First, he made the right call sitting Marcus Mariota. While we certainly don’t know everything about how close he might have been today, I’d say the fact that he was in uniform as the backup quarterback tells us he was close. However, with reports Saturday night and Sunday morning that Mariota was still struggling to grip the ball, it’s safe to say that he probably wasn’t going to be his normal self if he did play and another week of rest without putting himself in harm’s way could do him a lot of good from a long term perspective. Players from both teams heaped credit upon Vrabel after the game with center Ben Jones giving his coach the game ball. The gameplan included some wrinkles too. A fake punt and an out-of-nowhere appearance from the wildcat package among the most prominent. The Titans coaching staff managed the game perfectly, protecting their backup tackles and coaxing a largely mistake-free performance from their backup quarterback. Things got a little bumpy in the second half when the offense turned in three consecutive three and outs, but they were able to move the ball effectively when it mattered the most without asking too much of Blaine Gabbert. Vrabel was aggressive with the fake punt call and converting two 4th downs (including one at their own 32-yard line). The Titans have never had an aggressive head coach so seeing some of the gutsy calls that Vrabel made against Houston was a welcome change from the Mularkey Era. It was just a fantastic job of coaching by Mike Vrabel and his staff this week.Blaine GabbertGabbert’s stats weren’t great in this game. He finished 13 of 20 for 117 yards and a touchdown, but he played turnover-free football and made a few clutch plays when the team needed it late. There is no quarterback controversy to be sure. Marcus Mariota gives this team the best chance to win, but Gabbert was able to get his job done today in a huge spot against a quality defense. Corey Davis and Taywan TaylorThe Titans two second year receivers made a big impact against the Texans. Davis was the team’s target leader for a second straight week and turned his 7 targets in to 5 catches for 55 yards. That may not sound that impressive, but he had two huge catches on the Titans game winning drive and is starting to look the part of a No. 1 receiver. A week after getting just 9 snaps on offense, Taywan Taylor was a much bigger part of the gameplan against Houston. The former 3rd round pick from Western Kentucky caught 3 passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a thing of beauty as Taylor took a simple screen and made multiple Texans miss on a weaving run to the endzone.I’m a big believer in Taylor’s talent and I think plays like this will make it harder and harder for the coaches to keep him off the field. Taylor needs to be getting 5+ touches every game.Jurrell Casey, Kamalei Correa, and Harold LandryThe Titans pass rush did a nice job most of the game keeping Deshaun Watson from getting comfortable in the pocket. They ended up collecting 4 sacks and adding 9 QB hits along with pressures on other snaps. Casey led the group with 2 sacks and added another hit and a tackle for loss in what was an excellent game for the Titans star defensive tackle. We are used to Casey being great at this point, but that doesn’t mean should stop appreciating it. Kamalei Correa followed up a good Titans debut in Miami with another good performance this week. He got a sack for a second straight game and added 2 tackles for loss and 2 QB hits. Correa has already been worth the 2019 6th round pick that Jon Robinson gave up for him just before roster cut down day, but based on the early returns I think he has a chance to turn in to a long term piece for the Titans at outside linebacker.Speaking of long term pieces, Harold Landry made his debut today and despite finishing the game without a tackle or sack, it was hard not to notice him out there. He did have 2 QB hits and was constantly in the Texans backfield helping make plays like this.Landry made such an impact that the Texans were actively chipping against him on almost every snap by the end of the game. This guy is going to be a stud and if the Titans can continue to develop him, Correa and undrafted rookie Sharif Finch Youth Dennis Kelly Jersey , they could be set at this position for years to come. (Speaking of Finch, he was active over Aaron Wallace against Houston and that gives us an idea of how much they like their UDFA find.)Offensive Line Coach Keith Carter and Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleurThe Titans are two games in to the 2018 season and the offensive line has allowed just 1 sack despite being without star tackles Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin for the majority of snaps. Credit is certainly due to reserve tackles Kevin Pamphile, Dennis Kelly, and Tyler Marz for coming through when called upon, but when an entire unit is playing at this level, their coaches are doing something right.The Titans running game never really got on track against Houston, but they were able to grind out a semi-effective ground attack despite the fact that the Texans clearly did not fear Gabbert beating them over the top. Carter is doing a fantastic job getting his offensive linemen ready and LaFleur is putting his players in a position to succeed with his offensive gameplans. Dane CruikshankCruikshank was billed as a potential special teams ace when the Titans drafted him in the 5th round and he is already showing flashes of that just two games in to his NFL career. Obviously, he made the catch on the beautiful fake punt pass from Kevin Byard that resulted in a tone-setting touchdown early in the game, but he also added a fantastic tackle on punt coverage later in the game.LosersMalcolm ButlerIt’s hard to have many losers after a win like that, but Butler gave up a long touchdown catch for the second straight week, only this time he didn’t get the big interception to balance out his ledger. His reputation as a boom or bust corner has been lived up to early on, but I’m sure the Titans would like to limit the busts to less than one per week. Rashaan EvansEvans didn’t do anything wrong against the Texans, he just didn’t do anything at all. I’ll have to wait for the official snap counts to come out, but I was looking for No. 54 all day and never saw him step between the lines despite being one of the 46 active players. It will be interesting to see why Evans never got on the field. Maybe the Titans wanted to be extra careful with his hamstring or maybe they just didn’t feel like he was ready. Whatever the reason, Evans’ development seems like it isn’t where the Titans would like it to be at this point. Jadeveon ClowneyClowney was inactive today as he deals with back and elbow issues, but he still managed to get called for a key penalty. Clowney taunted Titans tight end Luke Stocker after he got knocked down near the Texans sideline, drawing a 15-yard penalty that set the Titans on their way to the game tying field goal. This comes less than a year after he talked trash to LeShaun Sims moments before the Titans corner made the game-clinching interception. Maybe Clowney should try doing more walking and less talking when he visits Nashville. On second thought, keep doing you Clowney.An In-Depth Look at the (Very Brief) History of Matt LaFleur As A Playcaller The Tennessee Titans hired Matt LaFleur as Offensive Coordinator after he spent last season with the Los Angeles Rams in the same position.Well, not exactly the same position... LaFleur held the same title in LA, but he wasn’t calling the shots. It was ultimately head coach Sean McVay’s offense that LaFleur was helping to run.LaFleur has never called plays in a regular season NFL game. He was the playcaller at Ashland University in 2007, but that was over a decade ago.However, Sean McVay gave LaFleur the exciting opportunity to call plays during certain moments of the 2017 preseason. LaFleur called the entirety of the Rams’ August 19th matchup with the Oakland Raiders, as well as the second half of the final preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.So, taken with a few extra helpings of salt, let’s see if we can learn anything about Matt LaFleur from looking at these games, broken down drive-by-drive.August 19: Los Angeles Rams at Oakland RaidersDrive 1: 8 plays, 85 yards http://www.titansfootballauthentics.com/kamalei-correa-jersey-authentic , TD in 4:46The Rams got off to a hot start. With a good mix of zone handoffs and easy-access passes for Jared Goff, the Rams moved down the field efficiently. The offense capped off the drive with a beautiful play-action play that resulted in Goff finding a wide open Cooper Kupp in the end zone. Jared Goff finds a wide open Cooper Kupp for Matt LaFleur’s first called touchdown (NFL Gamepass).Drive 2: 3 plays, 7 yards, Punt in 2:13The Rams’ second drive didn’t go quite as well as the first. Really the drive was derailed by Khalil Mack’s sack on 2nd-and-5, a somewhat-famous play in which the Rams attempted to block Mack with a pair of rookie tight ends. Goff dumped the ball off to Todd Gurley on 3rd-and-15, who came up three yards short of the first down.Drive 3: 8 plays, 41 yards, Touchdown in 3:25The Rams’ third drive was another success. Using a heavy dose of shotgun passes, the Rams quickly marched to the two-yard line before Gurley punched through into the end zone.Drive 4: 15 plays, 58 yards, Field Goal in 8:57On the Rams’ fourth drive, they held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the second quarter. Mixing shotgun passes with runs from under center, the Rams slowly plodded down the field. LaFleur repeated a similar type of play that had worked on the first drive. It was blown up for no gain on this attempt. The Rams tried a similar play earlier where they brought Robert Woods back across after faking a handoff to the opposite side. The play to Woods worked great; this time, however, the Raiders saw it coming (NFL Gamepass).The drive came to a halt at the Oakland 17-yard line after backup running back Malcolm Brown was taken down for a loss of three, followed by Jared Goff stepping out of bounds for one yard after being pursued towards the sideline, and finally a screen to Cooper Kupp for 3 yards on 3rd-and-12.Drive 5: 6 plays, 13 yards, Punt in 2:50The Rams actual fifth drive was a one-play hand-off before halftime, so we’ll skip that one and move on to the first drive of the second half, with LaFleur calling plays for backups.Sean Mannion picked up one first down with a quick-out throw for 5 yards, but the drive stalled after back-to-back incomplete passes on 2nd and 3rd down.Drive 6: 4 plays, 22 yards, Punt in 2:57The next drive opened with a nicely designed underneath dump-off to the H-back that went for a 13-yard gain. The Rams had to punt after failing to convert a 3rd-and-1 run.Drive 7: 5 plays, 16 yards, Punt in 3:47This drive got off to a pretty good start with a couple of handoffs picking up a first down. Then a ten-yard holding penalty set the offense behind the chains, and they weren’t able to make up the lost yards.Drive 8: 3 plays http://www.titansfootballauthentics.com/will-compton-jersey-authentic , 1 yard, Punt in 1:11It’s really hard to judge play-calling this deep into a meaningless preseason game. With backups, lack of game-planning, and a general commitment to withholding the “good stuff,” it’s hard to isolate Matt LaFleur’s abilities as a playcaller and fairly evaluate him.Drive 9: 13 plays, 80 yards, Touchdown in 5:19But that being said... the Rams took over possession trailing 21-17 with 6:30 to play, and they marched down the field, chewed up nearly the entire game clock, and scored the go-ahead touchdown to win the game.The possession mixed a handful of hand-offs in with a mostly quick passing attack to get down the field. The Rams only had to convert one third-down on a 13-play drive, which is quite impressive. However, that doesn’t include the one 4th-down they converted on a pretty nice route combination.On fourth down, the Rams run a double-in concept with the slot receiver clearing out with a 7 route. The “other” Michael Thomas makes the catch for the conversion.The go-ahead touchdown came on a 20-yard deep fade against single coverage on the next play.The Rams’ final possession was a one-play kneel-down.August 31: Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay PackersSean McVay called plays for the Rams in the first half of this game, and then turned the reigns over to LaFleur for the second half.The Packers received the second-half kickoff and proceeded to mount a nearly 12-minute drive, meaning the Rams didn’t gain possession until 3:42 remaining in the 3rd quarter.Drive 1: 3 Plays, 4 Yards, Punt in 1:44Our good pal Dan Orlovsky quarterbacked the Rams’ offense in this meaningless preseason contest.He opened things up with a short completion, but couldn’t connect with his target down the left sideline on 3rd-and-6 two plays later. The Rams punted.Drive 2: 9 Plays, 64 Yards, Touchdown in 5:39LaFleur’s second drive as a playcaller didn’t begin until the 4th quarter, with 12:23 to go in the game. A pair of inside handoffs moved the ball into Packers’ territory. A couple short-outs and another hand-off put the Rams at 1st-and-10 inside the 35-yard line.The drive was full of inside zone hand-offs, but sprinkled in were quick-drop pass plays from under center, similarly aligned to the plays that became inside zones. Not much play-action, mostly just alternating between inside zone and quick drop pass, usually to a speed-out in the flat. The defense’s inability to recognize pass or run from the formation led to the touchdown at the end of the drive.The Rams ran many plays in a row out of a similar formation and kept the defense off guard, leading to this touchdown.No one follows Johnny Mundt, a backup tight end trying to make the Rams roster Youth Marcus Mariota Jersey , as he motions across the formation, expecting him to be a lead blocker for a run play. But he leaks out and Orlovsky finds him with space to run in for the touchdown.Drive 3: 4 Plays, 19 Yards, Punt in 1:00Orlovsky hit his running back out of the backfield for 12 yards on first down, but then the drive stalled after an incomplete attempt on 3rd and short.The final drive of the game consisted of two clock-killing handoffs. Analyzing the DataEven though it’s preseason, and all the caveats I described above (about backups getting significant playing time, about the full offense possibly not yet being installed, about teams not gameplanning for their opponents, and about teams trying not to give away all their secret plans) are in play, I still think it’s worthwhile (or at least interesting) to break down LaFleur’s playcalling tendencies.Matt LaFleur Playcalling DataDistribution# of SnapsPercent of PlaysAverage Yards per PlayTotal Yards GainedDistribution# of SnapsPercent of PlaysAverage Yards per PlayTotal Yards GainedThe distribution of the second half Green Bay game was fairly even, with 9 passes to 10 runs (two of those coming with little to no time remaining). The Oakland results, however, were pretty heavily weighted towards the passing game.There were two plays called as passes that ended up not counting in the pass attempts, the Khalil Mack sack mentioned above and the play Jared Goff was forced to step out of bounds for a one yard gain. I included those as part of the pass count in the table above.What To ExpectSo based on all this information, what can we expect to see from LaFleur’s Titans on Sunday?Well, without getting into too many specifics, I expect to see a fairly balanced distribution between run and pass. A good dose of play-action and easy-access throws are likely, especially if Luke Falk gets heavy playing time. They’ll probably want to make life easy on the rookie by giving him plenty of defined reads, easy dump-offs and screens, and plenty of misdirection and play action to open up passing lanes.Mostly, the playcalls will be pretty simple in general. They want to see if the fringe roster guys are executing plays with proper technique when the live action begins. Are the wide receivers hitting their depths? Are the linemen staying low in their stance? Are the running backs reading the zone blocks in front of them?So while this data may give us a hint or two of what to expect from LaFleur, the truth is we won’t really know anything until we see this new offense in action. The good news is kickoff is (finally) right around the corner.


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