The young Tennesee Titans offense showed what they were capable of against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. This big play from Marcus Mariota to Dorial Green-Beckham was a key factor. Mark Schofield breaks down the play and displays the key concepts involved.
It was not the biggest matchup during Sunday’s slate of games, but the meeting between Jacksonville and Tennessee in Nashville showcased some of the league’s emerging offensive talents. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw for five touchdowns on the afternoon, including three to breakout star Allen Robinson ‒ although if you read Matt Harmon, which you should ‒ the WR’s stellar season should not be a surprise. Even with Bortles’ impressive effort, the Titans were able to come away with the win, thanks to a huge afternoon from some young stars of their own. This connection between rookies Marcus Mariota and Dorial Green-Beckham played a huge part in the victory.
With the Titans clinging to a 21-19 lead, Tennessee faces 2nd and 18 from the Jacksonville 47-yard line to open the fourth quarter. The offense sets with 11 offensive personnel on the field with Mariota in the shotgun, using slot formation to the right and a wing slot alignment on the left. The defense lines up with its 4-2-5 nickel personnel, and shows Cover 2 before the snap with both safeties deep, and the three cornerbacks showing man coverage:
The Titans use a double-in concept on this play, with slot receiver Kendall Wright (#13) and Green-Beckham (#17) both running dig routes. On the backside of the play, Harry Douglas (#83) runs a deep comeback route. Tight end Delanie Walker (#82) delays for a moment after the snap ‒ likely checking for a blitz from outside linebacker Telvin Smith (#50) ‒ before running a shallow crossing route:
As indicated, the Jaguars line up in a Cover 2 look, but before the snap Mariota has a number of cues that indicate the defense will roll its coverage. While the CBs over the slot formation are in man alignment and looking at their receivers, on the backside of the play, cornerback Dwayne Gratz (#27) is tilted toward the football and staring at the quarterback, which is a zone indicator. The safeties also show zone indicators before the ball is snapped. While they align in a two-deep look, free safety Sergio Brown (#38) is deeper than his counterpart, strong safety Jonathan Cyprien (#37). Adding these together, Mariota has an inkling that the defense will adjust. And they do:
The Jaguars roll their coverage to Cover 3 Buzz, with Cyprien dropping into an underneath hook zone at the snap while cornerback Davon House (#31) ‒ who is in press alignment over Green-Beckham before the play ‒ retreats into zone coverage as well. While Smith shows blitz presnap, he drops into the flat, as does slot cornerback Aaron Colvin (#22) on the other side of the field.
Mariota takes the snap and retreats into the pocket using a five-step drop. As he moves, left defensive end Andre Branch (#90) uses a speed rush to try and beat right tackle Byron Bell (#76). The RT rides the defender to the outside and behind, while the QB does a good job of climbing the pocket, and then spotting Green-Beckham on his post route:
The pattern takes Green-Beckham into a narrow throwing lane between the free safety and House. The throw is slightly high, but the WR extends for the reception knowing Brown in position to deliver a shot to his ribs. The FS does exactly that, but the rookie demonstrates tremendous play strength by lowering his shoulder and bouncing away from the hit, staying upright. From there, Green-Beckham shows his speed by outracing Cyprien to the end zone for the score.
Strength and speed were two reasons the Titans drafted the WR, despite his cloudy off-the-field history and the fact he sat out all of 2014 because of NCAA transfer rules. Both traits were on full display on this play. The touchdown extended Tennessee’s lead to nine, and the Titans held on for a 42-39 victory. While the season has been a difficult one for the Titans, the ability of their young offensive core, as displayed on this snap, shows that the future should be bright in Nashville.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.
Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.
All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.