Titans-Jags Film Session #2: Attacking the Seam

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Tennessee Titans attempts a pass during the season opener game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 11, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Continuing with our Film Session series, we'll take a look at one of the bigger pass plays from the game.

With 5:55 left in the second quarter, Palmer elects to attack the Jags with the deep ball on the first play of the series.  It's a simple play, executed well, and results in a big 30 yard gain.  Follow me through the jump for more in depth analysis of how this play went down.

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Titans are in "11" personnel.  Britt is split out left at SE, with Nate in the slot to his right.  Stevens is in to block at TE.  Damian Williams is split out at FL to the strongside of the play.

Pre-snap indicates MOFO (middle of the field open) coverage.  Further, it would appear that they are in man underneath, with the Nickel lined up with the slot receiver and the strongside linebacker "covering" Stevens.

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Hasselbeck turns his back to the defense and begins his fake to CJ.  Safeties remain in position, and corners stay manned up against the outside receivers.  They are clearly in Cover 2 at this point.

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Now we get to the juicy stuff.  First things first, check out the blocking.  The O-line has created a perfect pocket. And, really, this play probably would have gone for a big gain if it were an actual handoff.  Safeties are still deep.  Nate is running up the seam and his defender is still facing him.  The outside receivers are both running go/deep fade patterns.  This could be by design, or they could be converting to this route after seeing man/cover 2 coverage as this is a textbook way to beat that sort of coverage.  Even though he doesn't get the ball, just notice how smoothly and effortlessly Kenny gets past his defender.

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We can now see that Hasselbeck has two options, both of which require precise accuracy.

1) Kenny now has his defender beat.  There is still safety help over the top.  Hasselbeck has the option of trying to fit it in between the corner and safety.  It would appear that there is more than enough room to do so.

2) Nate has not gotten past his man, but he already has him "beat".  The defender has turned his hips and his back is now to the ball.  While this play could be by design, it's not uncommon for the receiver to have an option route here.  The options of the slot receiver running up the seam are to plant the foot and "get skinny* " up the middle of the field, or if it's MOFC (middle of the field closed) the receiver can run a flag route to the corner.  Option route or not, Nate plants his foot and cuts to the middle of the field.

*Nate is running a skinny post here.  A traditional post takes more of an angle.  The goal of a skinny post is to plant, and angle just enough to get inside of the safety.

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You can see now that Nate has made his break to the center of the field.  Hasselbeck sees he has the defender beat and delivers the ball.

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Two views here just to illustrate the precision of the pass and the great play that Nate makes on the ball.  Hasselbeck throws a 35 yard pass into a 3 foot window here.  The accuracy is spectacular.

If we're nitpicking, a bigger play might have resulted if he manipulated the safety inside and delivered the ball to Kenny.  We're not, though.  This is a great play that is executed at a high level by virtually all of our players on offense.  Well done.

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