Titans Deployed One-Game Strategy

The Titans' tight ends weren't a factor in Tennessee's close contest against the Colts. Or were they? Check out the change in offensive strategy that the Titans deployed in hopes of keeping the Colts pass rush from being so effective last Sunday.

Heading into their AFC South matchup against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts, the Tennessee Titans had used the pass-catching skills of their tight ends extensively in their offense to move the chains and score points. 

Bo Scaife came into the RCA Dome tied for second in team receptions with 10 for 158 yards. But by the end of the game, his season-to-date totals hadn't budged. Their other talented tight end, Ben Troupe, had 7 catches for 105 yards under his belt, but grabbed just one pass for 2 yards against the Colts. 

Did the Colts take the pair out of the game defensively? Or why didn't the Titans use two of their usual offensive weapons in Indianapolis? Tennessee's head coach, Jeff Fisher, explained that he made a one-game adjustment to his offense in hopes of neutralizing the Colts' pass rush.

"Our decision to go in the ballgame was not to use a lot of the two tight end packages," he said. "I think it would make sense to utilize the tight ends in a game like this at Indy with the edge pressure that they have, to chip and do those kind of things. We did not give up any sacks. It's probably the first time in a long time that we've gone there (Indianapolis) and not given up any sacks."

And with a young quarterback at the helm, Fisher wanted to make sure he had every second possible against a speed defense like the Colts, even though the Titans had done a pretty decent job of protecting the quarterback in previous weeks.

"We've given up six sacks this year in five games," Fisher said. "That's headed in the right direction. It certainly helps with Vince and his mobility and his ability to avoid, but protection is obviously an issue." 

The team's focus on the running game also allowed the Titans to use their tight ends as additional blockers at the line of scrimmage rather than worrying about completing passes to them. Or when they went with a single tight end set, they often put two running backs into the game to open up new options the Colts hadn't seen on the tape the week before. Against Dallas, quarterback Vince Young didn't complete a single pass to his running backs. Against Indy, he completed six of his ten passes to his backs and practically ignored his tight ends. 

"It was something that we felt would give us an advantage going into this ballgame to chip and block our way out and use them (our running backs) in a screen game..." Fisher said.

As the Colts are noticing early on in each game, teams are increasingly trying to throw totally different looks and strategies at them than what the team has likely prepared for during the week. And it's not likely to get any better. So as you see each new opponent on the horizon, be prepared for to see the unexpected rather than the opponent's usual approach to the game. It's going to make things tougher for the Colts and their coaching staff in the early minutes of each contest, but it's also an incredible measure of respect when you think about it. If teams believe they have to show something totally out of character to have a chance to win, they are already acknowledging up front that they can't go head-to-head with Indianapolis playing their strengths straight up against the Colts' strengths.

It's going to be an interesting season.

In-Story photo of LenDale White: AP/AJ Mast

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