The Titans play-calling has been coming under serious scrutiny over the past few weeks, and perhaps none more so this season than in Sunday's meltdown in a 26-20 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Did the Titans get too conservative in the second half against the Broncos? They only threw seven second-half passes until it was too late and Vince Young had to make three desperation heaves at the end of the game. Are the Titans relying too much on Chris Johnson? They didn't in the first half, but it can sure be argued that they were too run heavy in the second half until they lost the lead.
Tennessee had just 52 offensive plays in the game and only 20 in the second half. Let's examine the formations and calls, which might surprise you, and how the play calls went by down and how successful they were.
A couple of things to remember: We are examining personnel. For instance on the first play of the game, CJ split out wide in motion, leaving only Ahmard Hall with Vince Young in the backfield, but, despite Johnson being out wide, that's still counted as a two-back set. Also, as always TitanInsider's charting is unofficial, but we try to be as accurate as possible.
First down: Tennessee ran 23 first-down plays
--The Titans ran nine plays in the two-back set on first down with five of those being runs for 62 yards. That total was severely skewed by Javon Ringer's 54-yard run in the second quarter. Young was 2 of 4 passing for 10 yards.
--The Titans had nine first-down calls in the two tight end set against the Broncos. They had no running success here, getting six yards on five rushes. They were much more effective throwing the ball. Young completed 4 of 4 passes for 56 yards, moving the chains three times on pass plays from this formation. The only time he didn't pick up a first down was on first-and-19 after a penalty.
--After using the three-wide set only on third downs against the Giants, the Titans used it four times on first down. Young was 0 of 2 passing, but did run for 18 yards on a scramble. CJ's lost fumble came on a run from this package.
–In the heavy package with two backs and two tight ends, the Titans used it just once, in the shadow of their own goal line with Johnson picking up three yards.
Second down: Tennessee ran 17 second-down plays
--In the two-back set, the Titans had five plays, running twice for four yards, but completed all three pass attempts for 25 yards.
--From the two-tight end formation, Tennessee had eight plays on second down. Johnson ran four times for 15 yards out of this set, while Young was 2 of 4 for 27 yards here, including the 17-yard completion to Jared Cook early in the game.
--From their three receiver formation, the Titans had four plays – one run for seven yards and went 1 of 3 passing for 8 yards.
Third down: Tennessee ran 12 third-down plays and converted three times
--The Titans ran the two-back set just one time on third down, with the result being an incomplete pass.
--Tennessee used the two tight end set just once on third down as well, with the result the same – an incomplete pass.
--The Titans used the three-receiver set for their other 10 third down tries on Sunday. Young's numbers were good when given the chance, completing 6 of 10 for 43 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked twice for losses of seven yards.
Play call tendencies
--First down: Run/pass ratio 12-11. The 11 rushes netted 71 yards, not counting Young's 18-yard scramble, which was designed as a pass. Also, 54 of those yards came on one run from Javon Ringer. Young was OK here, going 6 of 10 for 66 yards.
--Second down: Run/pass ratio 7-10 Tennessee netted just 26 yards on seven runs on second down, which brings us to the next disturbing statistic listed below on third down.
--Third down: Run/pass ratio 1-11. This stat points out the Titans' ineffectiveness in the running game on Sunday, because the Titans did not run the football once on third down against the Broncos after the opening series of the game. And there were opportunities to at least try with a third-and-1, third-and-2 and third-and-3 situations. Each time the Titans threw out of the three-receiver formation, plus once out of two other sets.