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Chargers 23 Titans 17: Examining the Play Calling

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I Eat Short Yardage!!
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It is really easy to 2nd guess decisions. I realize the Titans' coaches know a little bit more about football than I do. I also realize that having 24 hours to think about play calls is a whole lot easier than having 40 seconds, but there are some calls from that game yesterday that just don't make any sense.

We always talk about how Jeff Fisher is an old school coach. The biggest knock that his detractors have on him is that he is conservative. That is what makes some of the play calling from yesterday's game even more puzzling. There were 7 times yesterday where the Titans faced a 3rd and less than 3. Without looking, guess how many of those times the Titans ran the ball. The answer is 3.

Now guess how many times they converted. Again, the answer is 3.

Finally, guess how many of the 3 conversions were on running plays. That's right, all of them. Knowing Fisher's philosiphies as I feel I do, that really confuses me.

The first situation came in the 1st quarter. The Titans faced a 3rd and 2 from the San Diego 21. Vince Young dropped back to pass and was sacked by Shawne Merriman.

The second time came in the 2nd quarter when Kerry Collins was in because Young was sidelined by Merriman's cheap shot. This seems like the perfect time to hand the ball to LenDale, right? Well Collins dropped back to pass and was sacked.

The third time was also in the 2nd quarter. The Titans faced a 3rd and 1 from their 29. Vince threw an incomplete pass.

The fourth time came in the 3rd quarter. The Titans faced 3rd and 2 from their 37. Vince threw a perfect pass to Matt Wilhelm. The problem with that is he plays for the Chargers.

The fifth time came in the 3rd quarter. The Titans faced a 3rd and 1 from the San Diego 10. LenDale carried for a 1st down. Chris Brown scored a touchdown on the next play.

The final 2 times came on the Titans' last posession of regulation. LenDale carried the ball both times and got the first down both times.

The offensive line, by pretty much all accounts, is the strength of this team. The Titans have a running back that weighs north of 240 and is built to pick up short yardage plays. They also have a quarterback who has been wildly inconsistent this season. Why in the world do you put the ball in his hands in those situations?

My next issue is the call to throw the ball on the final offensive play of regulation. I don't have a huge problem with that call because if they pick up the 1st down the game is over, but with this offense you cannot count on that. I give the ball to LenDale there and take my chances. He was running really hard on that drive, and worst case scenario, you don't get the 1st down, but you force the Chargers to use their final timeout.

I also don't get the run, run, pass in overtime. There was little doubt in my mind that the game was over if the Titans didn't get a couple of 1st downs there. You have got to be a little more creative and at least take one shot down the field. I understand that an interception or a safety end the game, but so does a 3 and out when your defense has been on the field non-stop for the last hour. If they throw a pass 40 yards down the field and it gets picked, it is just as good as a punt. There really isn't that much to lose in that situation.

Again, 2nd guessing is a whole lot easier than making the original decision, but I just can't figure out what type of team Fisher wants this to be. Are they a conservative smash mouth football team or not? I guess the question should be aimed more at Norm Chow, but I think we are fooling ourselves if we don't think Fisher has the final say.