Aug 30, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Craig Stevens (88) runs the ball against New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson (96) during the first half of a preseason game at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-US PRESSWIRE

Tennessee Titans: How I'd Fix the Run Game

I don’t have to tell you the Tennessee Titans were ineffective in the run game this last week. That point has been confirmed all week. What I can tell you is what I’d do if I was coaching and wanted to fix the run issues.

The whole offseason the Titans spoke of using more two-tight end sets, similar to what the Patriots do. The Titans went out and drafted another athletic TE to pair with Jared Cook, making the pairing similar to the Patriots’ Gronkowski and Hernandez.

I’ve watched the Titans game against the Patriots a couple times now and gone over specific parts of it repeatedly. There was one play in specific that stuck out in my mind that was both effective… and seldom used.

The Tennessee Titans have three TE’s on the field in this formation…

Johnson has a nice pocket he feels comfortable in

The picture above is a screen shot from early in the first quarter. Easily one of the best run plays of the game.

The Titans have all three of their TE’s on the field in this play. Cookie just motioned to the right and the ball is snapped as soon as he is set. The ball is snapped and Chris Johnson gets four yards with ease.

As you can see from the picture to the left, Johnson gets a nice pocket that he feels comfortable running in. Just after this frame he cuts behind Steven and picks up an extra yard or so.

Johnson doesn’t feel comfortable with his lines blocking, and he shouldn’t. They let him get run over all last season. Using this formation utilizes one of the Titans best blockers in TE Craig Stevens and also leads to a lot of play-action possibilities.

Chris Johnson sitting in the backfield with something looking like an obvious run play could bring the heat and make for great plays by the ever emerging Jared Cook, Kendall Wright, or Kenny Britt.

It almost seems to obvious. The O-line isn’t making things easy for Johnson, so why not add a blocker or two? Even if it’s just for a little bit, it could help Johnson get back his confidence and perhaps lessen the hesitation that you can still see in him.

It’s early in the season and the Titans still haven’t shown all their playbook. Hopefully this play and ones like it are still in their and ready to be used more. This one got four yards and while that may seem like a small number, Johnson finished the last game with 11 carries for 4 yards.

Use those TE’s and get Johnson back to himself.

Do it.


You can find me on Twitter @JustinLStewart

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  • Jason Peters

    Great analysis. Lets hope they take your advice. Get Munchak on speed dial.

    • Justin Stewart

      Just talked to him this morning. No worries. We’ve got things all cleared up. Ha ha. But on a more serious note, thank you.

      I really hope they do use it more. It was probably the most successful run of the day. That and they’ll use their TE’s, who I think are really great.

      • Phill Lytle

        Good stuff! The run game is going to be a work-in-progress all season, but it has to be better than it was last week. That has to the low point of the season. It just has to.

        • Justin Stewart

          Psh. That was the low point of Johnson’s career. I can’t imagine it not getting any better. Really unfathomable.

  • Alex Ultreras

    What I don’t understand is this Titans offensive line could block pass plays for days.

    Why not pull some old offensive plays when Eddie George was in town and run play action screen plays to Chris Johnson. Then the defensive lines will have to ease up on biting on the original run play and may open up lanes in general for him to run, not to mention a deep ball to Kendall Wright or Britt.

    Every run play is just something every team has seen done, do something unique and different, stick him out at wide receiver and put some tight ends out there to block for him.

    • Justin Stewart

      I completely agree. They run every typical run play in the book. Never anything original. I’m really tired of them doing draws from the shotgun formation. Johnson has rarely, if ever, made a yard off of that.