Why this week will teach us a lot about Tennessee Titans OC Arthur Smith.
So many people are ready to get on their hands and knees and apologize to Tennessee Titans new OC Arthur Smith, because since Ryan Tannehill has been the starter the offense has really clicked.
I still have plenty of doubts.
More than once I have written or tweeted about how my biggest issues with Arthur Smith aren’t necessarily his play designs, but rather the inability to get into a good flow. On top of that, I really don’t like the way he uses the Titans personnel.
However, I will say that since the bye week he has done much better. I fully admit that there have been times where he has set things up beautifully like his jet-motion, backside flip to Henry for the first touchdown.
That play in itself was nice, but not ingenious or anything. However, the next play on offense he used that same motion but it was a play action pass that froze the defense for just a second. One second is all it takes for someone like A.J. Brown to get behind a defender and that play turned into a 91-yard TD.
One reason plays like that flow is because he is having Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown see the field more than half the game. That was something that didn’t happen in the first half of the season because Smith wasn’t doing a good job.
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In that huge misstep lies my biggest concern about Smith this week.
It has been incredibly easy to just say, hand it to Henry or throw a play action pass and trust Tannehill.
Unfortunately, Derrick Henry has missed every practice this week and while I think he still plays, he will probably see a reduced role.
Now there are two options for what Smith should do when Henry isn’t on the field. Should he:
A: Use Dion Lewis like he has for little to no effect for the entire season?
If you answered A, then you failed this test.
The only reason any part of this offense works as well as it does is because there is a fear and confusion that Derrick Henry brings to the game when he is on the field.
When Dion Lewis is in, the defense either doesn’t think he will run or they don’t care. Either way, they stop honoring the run and play pass which makes sense because they are usually right to do that.
The ONLY way you can replicate a reduced version of this offense is to put in one of those other two running backs and force defenses to treat them as real threats to run.
Even if Blasingame doesn’t do well as a runner, at the very least the defense doesn’t know that they can completely ignore him like they do with Dion Lewis.
With Adam Humphries out and Smith uncomfortable calling a pass heavy game anyway, it isn’t fair to say that they will lean on their wide receivers. In the end, this game will probably come down to how good the Titans pass rush and how well Arthur Smith calls this game.
This is the biggest question for Arthur Smith this weekend: Can you try something different or will you fail the same way you have all season.