Welcome back to One Big Play. The Packers haven’t won since I started writing this article, so it has been nothing but a pit of despair so far.  Fun!

Today I chose to look at DeMarco Murray’s touchdown pass to Delanie Walker. This play gave the Titans a 14-0 lead roughly halfway through the first quarter. In my past articles I chose to pick a play later in the game, but, since the final score of this game was 47-25, I wanted to go with a play where I first felt death’s cold grip. As it turns out, this was the play.

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We know the basics: DeMarco Murray [29] takes a pitch from Marcus Mariota [8]. While the right side of the line blocks, Delanie Walker [82] sneaks out. Murray pulls up for a pass and finds Walker open in the end zone. He throws a pretty nice pass, and the Titans take a 14-0 lead.

In this gif, I want you to pay close attention to Morgan Burnett [42], starting this play as the deep safety on the strong side. This is a terrific play design on the Titans part – more on that in a second – but Burnett has to see what is happening here.

Burnett stays deep for quite a while. He breaks towards the line when it already seems obvious that Murray has no interest in running the ball. At first I thought that Burnett wasn’t looking at Murray; that he was merely reading and reacting to the blocks. Upon further inspection, that does not appear to be the case. In fact, if he were reading the blocks, he would have been able to see what was coming.

Burnett holds deep, then breaks right as Walker is streaking past him. He doesn’t realize what is happening until the ball is already in the air, and by that time it is too late.

Quinten Rollins [24] is the wide cornerback on that side of the field and is the last man to set the edge. With Walker coming around looking like he’ll be blocking Hyde, Rollins needs to stay on the edge. By the time Murray commits to the throw, Rollins is no position to do anything about it.

Ultimately, this falls on Burnett. I understand the spot he’s in: as the safety on the strong side, it’s his job to come down in run support as needed. However, he is also the last line of defense and it is his job to read the offense from that position. He needs to see Walker coming through the line.

Let’s bring up another angle for this.

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Delanie Walker [82] starts this play set back off the right side of the line. Follow him as he runs this route. The Titans do a good job of making this look like it’s going to be a sweep, and Walker looks like a pulling blocker. While Phillip Supernaw [89] and Anthony Fasano [80] block the outside rusher, Walker circles behind them.

It looks like he’s going to be blocking Micah Hyde [33]. Instead of blocking Hyde, Walker runs right by him. Hyde hesitates, but he’s too far behind to bother the throw. Morgan Burnett [42] bites and DeMarco Murray [29] shows off a pretty accurate arm.

As I said, really nice play design by the Titans and perfect execution. It’s a beautiful play. I just wish it was someone other than the Packers on the losing end of it.


Albums listened to: Josh Ritter – Bringing in the Darlings

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