Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel made several lineup changes approximately midway through Sunday’s 24-16 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens. One of those changes saw struggling left tackle Andre Dillard benched in favor of sophomore blocker Nicholas-Petit Frere, who recently returned from suspension. The eye test and the advanced analytics indicate Petit-Frere struggled.
Pro Football Focus credited Petit-Frere with allowing 2.0 sacks, four pressures, and two hurries via 22 pass-blocking snaps. PFF labeled Petit-Frere with a lackluster pass-blocking grade of 17.4. James Foster of NoFlagsFilm posted a terrific montage that captured Petit-Frere’s struggles.
Breaking down the 4 Malik Willis sacks. How many times can I say "NPF loses immediately" in a 1.5 minute video pic.twitter.com/KiVBCWRqDS— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) October 16, 2023
Petit-Frere was also whistled for two penalties. Before he even entered the game as a starter, Petit-Frere was inserted into the lineup for a a jumbo package with Derrick Henry in the wildcat. An illegal formation penalty on Petit-Frere wiped out an explosive Henry run, forcing the Titans into their dreaded 3rd-and-long. An incomplete pass led to a punt, which the Ravens returned for 70 yards. Petit-Frere was later whistled for a false start, too.
For what it’s worth, Vrabel was pleased with Petit-Frere’s brief performance.
“I appreciated that Nic [Petit-Frere] was into it, acted like he wanted to be out there, acted like he loved it and was pushing piles,” Vrabel said. “He was jumping over the pile, just doing some of those things that we feel like are critical and a way to squeeze the last couple of yards out of every run,” Vrabel concluded.
It sounds like Petit-Frere may be Tennessee’s starting tackle when they play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8. Dillard was benched after Pro Football Focus credited him with allowing one sack, four pressures, and two quarterback hits in just 15 true pass-blocking sets. Dillard hadn’t even escaped the first half versus Baltimore yet and was allowing pressure on essentially a snap-by-snap basis.
Dillard is Ran Carthon’s first official misfire, and has performed like a straightforward cap casualty in the offseason. The Titans could save $6.5 million against the 2024 cap when designating Dillard as a Post-June-1 release, according to Spotrac. The Titans would inherit a manageable dead cap charge of $4.1 million. A pre-June release would save Carthon $2.9 million while creating dead cap charges of approximately $7.8 million.