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Titans-Ravens Film Session #2: Picking Up the Blitz

In our second Film Session this week, we'll look at the deep pass to Nate Washington early in the third quarter.  This play is notable for three reasons:

1.  On 3rd and 8, Chris Palmer and Matt Hasselbeck showed that they aren't afraid to take a shot downfield in a tie ballgame.

2.  Again, Chris Palmer uses an interesting offensive set.  While not revolutionary, small little things like we'll see in this play are a pleasant contrast to the vanilla offensive sets we've seen over the past few years.

3.  Jared Cook picks up the blitz well on this play, and against one of the best defenders in the game, Ray Lewis, no less.


Titans are in "11" Personnel, but it's not the positioning you'd expect.  Jared Cook is lined up next to Hasselbeck at the FB spot on the strong side of the formation.  Britt is split out left on the LOS, though nearer to the offensive line than usual.  Nate is in the "slot" on the LOS, and Lavelle is off the line of scrimmage, stacked nearly on top of Nate, at the Flanker spot.

Pre-Snap, it's hard to tell what the Ravens are doing, and that's by design.  They could be bringing as many as 7 and as few as 3 on the rush.  Safety is showing MOFC.  I should also note that Hasselbeck has a good hard count that helps him identify Ray Lewis as a potential rusher before the play starts.
The ball is snapped and the Titans pick up the blitz beautifully.  In fact, they pick it up so well that Ringer, who's left in as a blocker, doesn't have to block anyone on this play.  Notice Reed is still in the middle of the field.  Lewis is now coming, and you can see Cook has him identified.
Hasselbeck gets into his drop and Kenny is running a drag across the middle.  I don't know if this is just a coverage responsibility or greed, but Reed attempts to jump this route.  You can see him breaking from his single high position here.  At this point in the play, Hawk and Nate are both still running vertically.
This is at the same point in the play as the picture above, but it better illustrates the blitz pickup.    Check out Cook punishing Ray Lewis.  The block is perfect, and this picture doesn't do it justice.  Cook identifies the blitz from the beginning, gets low, and stands up Lewis.  The O-Line as a whole deserves credit here, though.  Everyone picks up their defender correctly, which establishes a nice pocket for Hasselbeck to throw from.
Kenny continues his drag route and you can now see Reed has a full speed break.  Hasselbeck has now recognized that there is no longer help over the top.  Nate is going to continue to run his vertical and has a full head of steam.  There's no way the defender will be able to close in time.

Side note:  Look at the pocket.  So much room for Hasselbeck to work.
Hasselbeck has now released the ball and Nate already has a step on his defender.  As we've seen before this season, when given the time and room to throw, Matt is one of the most accurate passers in football.  This time will be no exception.
The ball is just a tad bit underthrown, but it's still amazing accuracy.  Nate does a great job of securing the ball, and continues to show a huge improvement in catching.  Really, the Ravens were lucky this one didn't go for 6.

I didn't think this one was worthy of an entire post, but I just want to at least point it out.  On the final drive of the 4th Quarter, the Titans line up in the same set that they did in the previous Film Study with Cook split out wide and Kenny in the slot.  And, it's the same play.
The exciting thing to me about this play is the aggression in the play call, something missing from year's past.  With 6:00 to go, on third and 9, up by 10, the Titans run verticals.  This never would have happened on Fisher's watch.
Unlike the previous play out of this set to Cook, the Ravens are now showing MOFO coverage.  Kenny attacks the seam, and Hasselbeck drops this ball into the zone with unbelievable precision.  Titans get a big first down and don't look back.  

With each offensive play I look at from this team, I get more excited.  Chris Palmer is impressing with his creativity and I cannot wait to see what he has up his sleeve next.