The Titans offensive line is trash. Let’s get that out there right up front. There really isn’t a guy on that line playing well, and that makes it really hard to call an offense. I get that, but there is a way to do it better than Matt LaFleur, who we all thought was going to be the savior, did it last night.
Let’s start with the 4th and 1 play last night. I love the call to go for it there. It was pretty obvious the Titans were going to need touchdowns to win that game last night. With that being said, giving the ball to Luke Stocker there is an almost fire-able offense. That just feels like a play caller who is trying to prove you are the smartest guy in the room. Mike Vrabel said after the game they had seen teams run that play on film and have success against the Texans. Well, I guarantee you that AT LEAST 100% of the guys who had success on that play are better running backs than Stocker (and that’s no offense to Stocker BECAUSE HE ISN’T A RUNNING BACK).
Fast forward to 2:00 left in the 3rd quarter. The score is 27-10. The Titans defense finally gets a stop and the Texans punt. The game is not over at this point, but you need to get points and get them quickly. What do the Titans do? They come out in the wildcat on the first snap and get 1 yard. Yes, they have been successful with the wildcat against the Texans this season, but it has been to the tune of 5 or 6 yards per play. You don’t have time for that at this point...but hey, that’s just one play. They threw it on second down, right? NOPE. They turned around and handed it to Henry again. He got 7 yards on that one, which is nice, but again, time is not your friend at this point. After a false start on 3rd and 1, Marcus Mariota finds Corey Davis for a touchdown. HEY, look what happens when you throw the football!
The Titans defense gets another stop on the ensuing drive so now it is 27-17 with 13:44 left in the game. Somehow the Titans are still in the game, but they are still down 2 scores. Again, you need points quickly. What do the Titans do on first down? Yep, you guessed it, hand the ball to Derrick Henry.
Let me take a pause quickly here and say that it would be one thing if they were having success running the ball, but that wasn’t the case last night. The running backs carried the ball 15 times for 38(!) yards. That’s terrible.
So when you give the ball to Henry on first down there you are just giving away a down. You can’t really ever afford to give up a down in the NFL, but you especially can’t when you are down 2 scores in the 4th quarter. That’s just common sense. I don’t understand why LaFleur can’t get it.
And now we get to the best one of all. The Texans score to go up 34-17. The Titans get the ball back with 8:15 left to go in the game. During the timeout after the extra point I tweeted this:
Who wants to make a bet on a run on 1st down here??— Jimmy Morris (@jmorrisMCM) November 27, 2018
I was 100% joking. There was no way they were going to run the ball there, right??? Not so fast, my friend. They gave the ball to Dion Lewis and he got a solid 3-yard gain. I would say they were just giving up at that point, but if we draw that conclusion from that play call, then we need to say they gave up at the end of the third quarter.
Does it feel to anyone else like LaFleur has the game plan drawn up before the game starts and sticks with it regardless of what is going on during the game? I guess that speaks to his inability to make in-game adjustments. There just isn’t another reason you are coming out in the wildcat down 10 late in the 3rd quarter.
And in all of this we haven’t mentioned the fact that Mariota was playing really well and didn’t throw an incomplete pass until the 4th quarter. No reason to put the ball in that guy’s hands....
Like I said at the top, it isn’t time to talk about firing LaFleur at this point, but the game last night has me really concerned about his ability to be a successful NFL play caller? Am I way off base here?