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Why does Arthur Smith fall prey to fancy play syndrome so often?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Overall Arthur Smith has done a fantastic job since becoming the offensive coordinator of the Titans prior to the 2019 season. There is no world where the offense is the biggest problem on this team. They currently rank 3rd in the league in points scored per game and 5th in the league in yards per game. Ryan Tannehill, who mostly struggled during his time in Miami, has had a career resurgence in Tennessee with Smith calling plays for him. That is no coincidence.

With all of that being said, Smith falls for fancy play syndrome at times and it is really frustrating. He did it on the first drive yesterday against the Browns. The Titans faced a 3rd and 1 at the Cleveland 42. The Titans, with Derrick Henry, should be able to pick that up 100% of the time - especially when they are going to take two cracks at it. Go under center and turn around and hand it to the 6’3” 238 pound running back. TWICE. It’s really that simple.

Instead, the Titans call a play action pass and throw the ball to an offensive lineman on 3rd play. I don’t know that I have ever seen a team run that play when it isn’t on the goal line. Why in the world are you taking the chance on an offensive lineman securing the catch and not fumbling while he goes to the ground?

As if that’s not enough, the Titans then go in shotgun on 4th and 1. Again, why are you snapping the ball that deep into the backfield when you need (less than) a yard??

There was also the play where they lined Cameron Batson up at quarterback down 41-21 in the third quarter on a 1st and 10 in Cleveland territory, but the game was pretty much over at that point.

All of this to say, there are times every couple of weeks where it seems like Smith overcomplicates things that should be really simple. That doesn’t mean he is a bad coordinator, he isn’t, but I would really like to see him learn from these mistakes.