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A Quick Analysis of Zach Mettenberger's First Game

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A first glance at the Zach Attack.

Frederick Breedon

For those of you that followed my comments late last night, this will noticeably have some overlap. What I intend to do here is quickly look at Mettenberger's work. I'll highlight hopefully a few positive and negative throws. Bear with me as these are just a lot of quick thoughts, and unfortunately, I don't have any pictures or gifs to go with it.

First Drive
Mett's very first throw of this game is an out route to Hunter, who slipped and couldn't get off an attempt at the ball. The throw sailed a bit high it seemed but I still like the placement. If he puts that lower or inside, the corner has the advantage and may take that back. Good decision though - solo coverage against a tall receiver, with an initial cushion too. Stay on your feet Justin!

2nd Drive, 7:50 in the 1st Quarter
Starts with a very similar throw to Hunter. Easy pitch and catch. Two Sankey runs give us a first down and then Mett leads McCluster right into Joseph on the throw. This is one I think he should have either thrown into the stands. Its a pretty high risk through if the CB makes a play on the ball. Penalty then puts us in third-and-long.

I cannot express how much I love the checkdown on 3rd down here. I've frozen the screen after Mett fakes the shotgun handoff to Sankey: Clowney is going wide on Lewan and is actually a little behind Mett, Warmack and Oher are combo-blocking the other end, and Schwenke is already beat by the tackle. Tons of potential problems for a young QB. If he doesn't step up and hangs back, Clowney has a shot at a strip-sack. If he steps into the DT, its a sack. Mett takes a step to the right to avoid DT #96 (Schwenke now a full 2 yards behind) then one forward to avoid the tackle attempting to grab his feet. All this with eyes downfield, delivers an easy throw to a wide open Leon Washington.

3rd Drive, 14:51 in the 2nd Quarter
2nd and 18 in the shotgun and Mett has probably his worst throw of the day. Throws the ball behind Wright, Kareem Jackson jumps in front of the ball and KW saves Mett from his first pick of the day. Awful, awful throw.

4th Drive, 7:30 in the 2nd Quarter
Once again the Titans are have a long way to go for the first down. Mett throws behind Delanie Walker, who gets smashed by Swearinger. Not a great throw by any means, but one we need Walker to catch. For a struggling team, these little miscues really create big problems. Instead of 2nd and short, its 2nd and 20. Mett gets hit on the next play and checks down to Hunter to end the drive.

5th Drive, 5:30 in the 2nd Quarter
Another overthrow on a deep ball, this time to Hunter. Said it last night and I'll say it again: he is going to connect on these soon and when he does its going to greatly change the flow of a game.

6th Drive, 4:00 in the 2nd Quarter
Hey, another first and long after a penalty! Mett throws a nice out ball to Washington. This seems like an easy throw, but one that we haven't seen with consistency in a long time. Its well-timed, and so it looks easy, but without that anticipation this throw is broken up by the DB.

But then...the pick. This is a tough one. I talked last night with alijeal and he didn't like the decision. Certainly he's not alone in that, because the commentator said the same thing and I can definitely see their point. I think he has Walker open if he leads him toward the sideline. There are two Texans in front of Delanie, Swearinger the nearest about 2 yards away from him. What we can definitely all agree on is that the throw is bad. Underthrown, it basically winds up right to Swearinger.

First-Half Recap
I don't think its bad. I really don't. There is a lot to like here. The composure in the pocket is phenomenal. He's so comfortable there even when it breaks down, an impressive feat with JJ Watt bearing down on you. The majority of these throws were well-placed too. It just so happens that two of the ones that weren't end up as a near-INT and INT. As you can tell, I thought he made smart decisions too.

On to the second half, which will be a little less comprehensive.

3rd and 5, 14:07 in the 3rd Quarter
Let's talk about the fumble. Mett's in shotgun, four man rush. Pocket initially holds up. Mett's got his eyes to the left of midfield, presumably on Wright. That's covered, so he correctly shifts to the right. He cocks his arm back to deliver, but I can't tell where he's going. Hunter was out to the short right, while McCluster was going deep down the sideline. From the reverse angle I think he may have actually been going for Walker. At this point he's hit by Watt.

He was doing so well at feeling pressure up to this point. On this one he was almost too comfortable in the pocket. I'd like to point out though that if Oher makes even a decent block, this doesn't happen. Here is the back-angle again, for those that haven't seen it.

3rd and 5, 10:05 in the 3rd Quarter
Highlighting this throw in an attempt to show both sides of the coin with Mett. Yet again we see a throw that goes behind the receiver, this time to Walker. Poor throw.

For reference, the Texans then go 98 yards for a TD to make it 27-3. Still 5:35 in the 3rd left, so I'm going to keep going on this little endeavour. I think this is usable film.

3rd and 3, 5:00 in the 3rd Quarter
Really, really good throw here. Mett climbs the pocket and delivers a strike to Wright deep. Still would like to see him lead Wright a bit more, but holy smokes, this is a big-boy throw. This is the sort of promising things we want to see out of young QBs.

Next play Mett hangs in the pocket again, and delivers short pass to Walker. I love it. Love, love, love it. There's a decent pocket that quickly closes in on Mett and a delayed rusher. We saw delayed rushers find success last week against the Titans offense. Mett sees it coming and gets the ball out just before #57 is there. Underrated play, in my opinion.

Fourth down play now at 3:44 in the third quarter. Another good example of Mett going through reads. Primary read (I think) is McCluster sprinting out to the right. Its covered, so he shifts his view just inside of that to Derek Hagan, who picks up the easy catch and first down.

Before going further, it should be noted its now 30-9 just inside the fourth quarter. At this point Mett is 18/27 for 157, and a TD and INT. I understand that some people may want to discount the remainder of his work from here, and if you choose to do so, I can understand why. This disclaimer is here actually to highlight the work we've just seen in the first three quarters, which overall, I think is positive.

2nd and 10, 14:00 in the 4th Quarter
Mett finally connects on the deep ball, this time to Washington, who makes an outstanding catch. Would eventually turn the ball over on downs.

After that drive and then the Texans drive, the Titans get the ball back with 6 minutes in the fourth.
There is one last throw I want to touch on. Mett makes a good throw to Hunter, who has it go right off his hands for an incompletion.

The rest of Mett's work consists of a lot of checkdowns and easy throws against a relaxed Houston D.

Too-Long, Didn't Read Version:
The timing is getting there. You can see it on the out routes already. I love the pocket presence and willingness to stay there even if the first read isn't open or if the pressure forces him to slide. These are things that a lot of young QBs just don't have this early on. There were most definitely some negative plays, and I've tried to touch on a few to provide a balanced viewpoint. My opinion remains though that the positives outweighed the negative. Penalties early in the first half and a few drops made his job harder.

I'll end by cautioning that this is only one game. The reason for starting him this early was to get a full nine games of film on him, and no decisions can be made this early. With a bye week now there's going to be a lot of time to evaluate his play, certainly more in-depth than I have provided here. For now, I just like that there is potential for growth and success with Zach Mettenberger. Whether he capitalizes on it or not is what the next 8 games are for.