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 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.
You can find me on Twitter @JustinLStewart