While new Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt was steering the Chargers' offense back on track out west, the Tennessee Titans were still finding new ways to blow games to the Indianapolis Colts. However, in week 6 of the 2013 campaign, Whisenhunt led his Chargers to a convincing win over said Colts. While the Titans have undergone plenty of changes defensively, both in personnel and coaching staff members, their strategy will be equally important. That said, I am confident Ray Horton will have this group in position to win. With that in mind, let's talk offense.
So what can we take from looking at that game? And more importantly, how can Whisenhunt duplicate those results in Tennessee?
Whisenhunt made quick work of the Indianapolis defense with an attack that controlled the clock and gashed the Colts with incisive running and key completions to wideouts like Keenan Allen. The Titans have the personnel to accomplish those goals, in running back Bishop Sankey and wideouts Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. The Titans even have a flex guy in Dexter McCluster that may function in the role occupied by Danny Woodhead in Whisenhunt's 2013 Chargers offense.
But the NFL is more than just about players. It's about match-ups, and winning the "chess match" with the coordinator opposite you.
The Chargers offensive line was able to hold back the Colts rushers with a myriad of speedy 3 step drops and quick-hit passes out of the gun. The Titans' young offensive line would certainly benefit from this approach as they develop and build more chemistry together. Phillip Rivers was able to get the ball out before the pass rush arrived, and the Colts defensive personnel were unable to track down the short passes before they got past the sticks.
Whisenhunt employed stacked formations as he often did in Arizona, which added further confusion and hesitancy to the Colts' defensive backfield and linebacking corps.
With Michael Roos in the role of King Dunlap, the Titans should be able to exploit the left side of the line with the running game much in the same way the Chargers did. The Chargers didn't break off any huge runs, but they didn't need to. Sound blocking and respect for the passing game allowed them to capitalize and methodically move the chains. Able to keep the Colts offense from building any rhythm or momentum, the team dominated from whistle to whistle.
The Titans themselves have played fairly well against the Colts for two straight years now, but have found ways to blow late leads in almost all four match-ups. Breakdowns on both sides of the ball, too often at the hands of Donald Brown, spoiled any chance at sealing a win for Tennessee.
A new approach backed up by coaches who have topped the Colts has to be beneficial for the club.
Things change in the NFL every year though, including opposing team rosters and coaching schemes. So all of this would be irrelevant, right? Not so fast. The Colts have the same coaching staff and a similar defensive roster to last season. And why wouldn't they? They found success in a weak AFC South and rode their momentum right into January. While they will certainly not be a carbon-copy of the Colts circa 2013, they will be similar, and that is enough to warrant some serious homework on the part of the Titans coaching staff.
After all, if they can find a formula for getting the better of their AFC South rivals, they stand a strong chance of playing into January themselves.