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Going For It On 4th and 1 Was The Right Decision In Atlanta, But The Wrong Play Call

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An All-22 look on a slight blemish from an otherwise huge Titans win.

NFL: SEP 29 Titans at Falcons Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The inconsistency of the Titans continues. After looking rattled coming into Week 4 Marcus Mariota had has best game in a long time, doing just enough to compliment another strong defensive performance as the Titans won a game they weren’t expected to win by beating the Falcons 24-10.

You won’t find much to complain about in this game, although against a better team the lack of points in the second half would be concerning. But I wanted to take the time to look at a play from that second half—the fourth quarter to be specific—one that several fans thought was a bad decision.

With 13:14 left in the fourth quarter, the Titans—up 24-10 at the time—decided to go for it instead of kicking the field goal and taking the points. Contrary to what many fans say I had no problem with the decision to go for it, as a 21 point lead would force the Falcons to drive for three touchdowns instead of two touchdowns and a field goal.

My issue came with the play call.

gamepass.nfl.com

A Derrick Henry run up the middle on a tight formation? Yeah that should not have happened. If you’re going to go for it on 4th and 1, always run the quarterback sneak as the analytics would say.

Anyway, I wanted to take another look at the Henry run to break down why it failed., so let’s take a quick look at that.

gamepass.nfl.com
gamepass.nfl.com
gamepass.nfl.com
gamepass.nfl.com
gamepass.nfl.com

This is why you run the QB sneak. There’s more margin for error on these plays in regards to execution than a run up the middle in a tight formation. That the Titans did not realize that on this play call was a shame.

I say this now because once the competition heats up (and it starts next week against the Bills) running these 4th and short plays is only going to get tougher. Whether or not you think Mariota is good enough to lead this team to the playoffs, handing the ball off has less of a chance to work in these situations than a QB sneak.

This situational play calling is important. Guys like Sean McVay, Frank Reich and Doug Pederson understand this, and Tom Brady is a guy notorious for QB sneaking even at the age of 42. Here’s hoping Mike Vrabel and Arthur Smith see that.