My Thoughts on McNair-Chow

Discussion in 'Tennessee Titans and NFL Talk' started by Titantonic, Apr 3, 2006.

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  1. Titantonic

    Titantonic Camp Fodder

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    This is long, and I'm not claiming to be an expert on the matter, but it has been on my mind:



    If the Titans manage to work out the McNair contract situation, and I truly hope they do, I think there has to be a change in philosophy on offense. We went out last year and paid a million dollars to hire what is thought to be one of the true offensive geniuses of our time, and the first thing we did was tie one hand behind his back. What was the first thing we heard from Jeff Fisher after Norm Chow was hired?: "His number-one priority will be to protect the quarterback."

    That translates into lots of three-step drops which, of course, severely limits what you can do on offense and, perhaps more importantly, severely limits what the defense has to do to stop you. I shared the frustration of many who were calling for the Titans to throw the ball downfield more, but you simply cannot do that when the majority of your pass calls are three-step drops. I do not for one second believe the conservative, predictable offense we saw was Chow's preference. Sure he has a learning curve being new to the NFL and the cast of characters was somewhat lacking, but in order to protect McNair, who was coming to camp after the sternum injury forced him to consider retirement, Chow had to dump a good bit of the playbook.

    What made it even worse is that neither McNair nor the wide receivers seems very comfortable with the plan. It calls for great anticipation and timing between the QB and his receivers, and McNair and our rookie wideouts (nor Bennett, nor Calico) ever developed that. Mason (and to a lesser extent McCareins) had the mojo to make it work with McNair, but as yet, no one on the present roster does. Also, even though the three-step drop was implemented to protect him, McNair never looked comfortable. Even when he was upright, he was throwing the ball in close quarters with bodies flying all around him. With the less than stellar play of the offensive line, he must have felt he was throwing inside a closet with the walls closing in on him. The receivers were not doing a great job of getting open, he wasn't doing a great job of anticipating and trusting their moves, and the result was constant dump offs to the tight ends just to get rid of the ball before the walls totally collapsed.

    I love Steve McNair. He is my favorite Titan, and I do think if he's healthy he can lead this team for a couple more years while a new QB is developed. But, not if his presence keeps Chow in a box. Givens will help, but we still don't appear to be strong at wideout. I think by allowing Chow more freedom, and thereby allowing McNair more freedom to get out of the pocket and move or at least take more five- and seven-step drops, it will help the wideouts. They will have more room to maneuver and won't have to make everything happen a split second after the ball is snapped like they do when McNair is throwing quickly. We drafted speedy receivers then asked them to be quick and crafty instead of fast.

    The run game is still a big concern. But, it seems loosening up the passing attack could help that. There came a point last year when the vertical passing game was barely a threat at all, so defenses could stack close to the line of scrimmage to cover the quick slants, and that makes run defense a lot easier. Add to that the poor play of our offensive line (which I'm not sure has been fixed at all) and you have the recipe for the type of mundane ground game we witnessed all year long.

    As a fan, I'll never lose my affection for Steve McNair no matter what happens with his contract. He has done too much for the Titans and brought too much joy to me for that to ever happen. But, I don't think it makes sense to keep him at a $23-million plus cap hit (which Reese finally admitted last week), and I don't think they can keep him if it means a continuation of last year's offensive philosophy. If he is not healthy enough to handle the full playbook, then he's not healthy enough to play. Knowing McNair's attitude over the years, I think he would actually agree with that statement now that he's more than a year removed from the sternum surgery.

    In the immortal words of Forrest: “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
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  2. TitanJeff

    TitanJeff Kahuna Grande Staff

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    From what I understand, shorter passes were already a key part of Chow's offense -- especially when you compare it to Heimerdinger's big drops. I don't think keeping McNair off his backside was priority #1 as much as part of the result of Chow's scheme. It is a timing offense.

    What limited Chow's offense was personnel and the situation the team found itself in going down early in games. Few teams have the ability to come back when they go down as much as the Titans did last season.

    At times, teams with leads would sit back and give up the short stuff against the Titans because they didn't have anyone who could run by them. Like most offenses, you take what the defense gives you which was a dink or dunk pass too often. Without an effective running game and a lack of a WR who could stretch the field, there were few options.

    A new offense, rookies and a QB who can't practice isn't a good combination. Hopefully, that changes this season.

    There were games where Chow let McNair play his game. I believe the Seattle game was one example where he went back to the shotgun and appeared to throw out a lot of the playbook we saw entering the season. But, IMO, McNair's strength has never been hitting receivers in stride and that appears to be a key part of the Chow offense.

    Good point and the Titans offense last season in a nutshell. Teams with a lead could play back and keep the game in front of them. And when the games were somewhat close, the Titans rarely had the players who could stretch the field so defenses could keep an extra player in the box.

    With a year under their belt and the help Givens (and hopefullly a more effective Calico) brings, Chow will have more options to create those mismatches his timing offense seems built on. And the Titans have to do a better job running the football and keeping games reasonably close.
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  3. SEC 330 BIPOLAR

    SEC 330 BIPOLAR jive turkey

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    I like your post alot Titantonic. I don't really have some great reply for you like Jeff, but I'd like to say that I enjoyed reading it and I really got it.
    #3
  4. RollTide

    RollTide All-Pro

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    No running game...

    That was the biggest reason we finished 17th in total defense. Our running game was 23rd! Our passing game was 9th. This doesn't just point to the quality of those to aspects of our offense but to the fact we had to play from behind a lot which is largely on the defense. We were 29th in scoring defense by the way.

    The post assumes a few things that i would not. First of all steve did not play bad. His passing rating wasn't that different from what has been a career norm and he completed over 60% of his passes with 5 more TDs than ints. He did an outstanding job in distributing the ball. 9 players had 21 catches or more and 4 of them were rookies.

    Another myth that mcnair never had a good relationship with the young players. Really? Rookies caught over 100 passes for this team and 2nd year troupe caught 55. In short mcnair did darn good with what he had to work with.

    Another thing of course is that mcnair was relatively healthy most of the year and didn't have all those nagging injuries he often has to play with.

    You want to be an nfl QB working under these conditions?

    Defense that gives up 26.3 points a game.(45 TDS!)

    A running game that is 23rd in yards and 23rd in yards per attempt. One top RB missed 4 games do to a drug suspension.

    The loss of 6 quality starting players d/t the cap including his best WR.

    3 rookie WR. ! rookie OT. A rookie TE.

    Not one dominant #1 WR. Only one vet WR who is worth a darn.

    Put some other nfl QB in those conditions and see how he does. Probably no better than mcnair, most would have done worse. Jake plummer would have been hard pressed to have a 75 passing rating on that team.

    Don't blame chow or mcnair when the rest of the team was so bad.
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  5. RollTide

    RollTide All-Pro

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    The rookie WR myth...

    Sounds good to say that chow's system was difficult for rookies and that mcnair's lack of practice time made it impossible to build a relationship sounds good. Not true but sounds good but like many myths on these threads they die hard.

    The seasoned vet WR Bennett-calico
    80 catches--929 yards--11.6 ave--4 TDs

    The lost rookies with no timing and practice time with mcnair. jones-roby-williams
    65 catches--887 yards---13.6 ave--5 tds.

    Yeah some huge differences there.:sad2:

    The top rookie WR taken in the draft had 25 catches last year we had three rookies with 21 or more. On top of that we had a rookie tight end who had 37 catches. Note that our rookie WR missed 13 games with injuries.

    Here we have poster after poster saying that mcnair didn't have a good relationship with our rookies, the timing was off etc but the facts say the exact opposite. Almost all rookie WR struggle but there seems to be this moronic notion that they should have produced so much more when in reality our rookies were a bright spot. We are talking about 2 3rd rd picks and a 5th rd pick here!

    Chad johnson had 28 catches as a rookie.
    Isaac bruce had 21 catches as a rookie.

    I think mcnair's relationship with our young players was outstanding.
    #5
  6. GoT

    GoT Strength and Honor Tip Jar Donor

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    yep Super Genuis Wonder Boy Sucks as DC. Has since day 1 and in the anchor pulling this franchise down with his loser passive D.
    #6
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