Oh golly, I can't stay mad at you. It isn't your fault we sucked last year. Forgiven.
Football Outsiders introduced a brilliant new series a few days ago where they highlight specific NFL plays they like and analyze them in depth. It's the kind of thing a stat nerd would do, and I'm an admitted fan of stat nerdery. And Football Outsiders. That's why I can forgive them.
Today's installment premiered Your Washington Redskins getting tooled around by Vince Young and the Titans on a play they're calling "Shotgun Fake Option Seamer". Thanks a lot, FO:
As it turns out, Vince Young fakes the handoff to Travis Henry who busts into the offensive line. The Titans' wideout, Roydell Williams, runs straight at Holdman as if to block him. Michael Bennett, from the slot, heads for freedom on the sidelines. As FO points out, this set up creates much bedlam for the 'Skins defense:
This is very good play calling by the Titans, and also success should be credited to Vince Young being a scary guy to defend against. He probably demanded Holdman and our cornerback's attention longer than necessary, which is why Williams was open on the short pass. The safeties were too deep, indicative of a cowardly defensive plan to prevent the big play -- a Faustian bargain anyways, as that gamble resulted in... a 20 yard reception. Sometimes called a big play.
Everything about the call and its execution is reactive. Reactive play call in that it simply attempts to stop the bleeding by ceding the middle of the field, reactive in execution because we're biting on play fakes before we're biting (incorrectly) on Vince Young breaking for daylight. Our safety on that side, likely Adam Archuleta although Vernon Fox saw some field as well (might've been on special teams) was too deep to play the pass. Even when he decided to join the action he missed the tackle on Williams, so he was effectively a non-entity. The Titans won the game by the way, despite entering this play with a 14-3 deficit on the scoreboard. Also incidentally, this was Roydell Williams' longest reception of the season.
Huge thanks to Mike Tanier for breaking down the entire play, and I encourage reader(s) to routinely check Football Outsiders for this feature. I am not a football scientist and rely on greater minds to teach me the ins and outs of your average NFL play that I certainly miss. The moral of the story is that if you put Adam Archuleta and Warrick Holdman on the field against one of the most multi-dimensional talents in the NFL (Vince Young) then a lot of things can go wrong. Throw in some conservative defensive play calling and you've got near-certain disaster staring back at you. Attack that quarterback, Coach Williams. The good news is I have no problem speculating that that pass is much more difficult to catch if LaRon Landry is the safety in question, as he can close distance more quickly than Adam Archuleta and I dare anyone to catch the ball over the middle on him.
Anyways, thinking about the Titans game makes me sadface.