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How the Titans were sacked in 2011, part three

It’s now time for part three of my series on how the Titans were sacked in 2011.

As I noted in part one, the best way to describe how the Titans were sacked in 2011 was “not very often.” They finished second in the league in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rating. Further, not every sack is a negative play; a loss of yardage is generally better than a quarterback trying to force a play that isn’t there and risking a turnover. Still, the Titans were sacked in 2011, and sacks are bad, mmkay?

Part one of this series covered the Titans’ first four games. Part two covered the Titans’ fifth through eighth games. This part three covers the third quarter of the Titans’ 2011 season, including a road win against the Panthers, a road loss in Atlanta, a home win against the Buccaneers, and finally a road win in Buffalo. Part four, which will run on Thursday, covers the Titans’ final four games. This series will conclude with part five on Friday, in which I take the detail in parts one through four and try to draw some broader themes about how the Titans’ protection failed in 2011.

WEEK 10-AT CAROLINA-Hasselbeck 27 pass attempts, 1 sack, 3 QB hits
The Panthers were a very average pass-rushing team in 2011, bringing down the quarterback right at 6.7% of the time.

3Q-2-7-TEN 22 (8:36) M.Hasselbeck sacked at TEN 14 for -8 yards (A.Neblett).

This is a depressing sack to see happen. Harris has RDT Neblett blocked. In some ways, this sack starts with RDE Hardy, who beats a back-pedaling Roos to the inside before he can engage. Harris picks up Hardy, and Neblett is able to shoot the game between him and Amano, who came over to help. Hasselbeck goes down before Williams comes open on the deep in. After this play, Amano wonders to Harris what happened-I can’t lip-read at all, but there was clearly some sort of misunderstanding or miscommunication. Well, they’ve only been working next to each other for a year and a half.

WEEK 11-AT ATLANTA-Hasselbeck 25 pass attempts, 0 sacks;Locker 19 pass attempts, 1 sack; 3 QB hits
The Falcons were not a very good pass rushing team in 2011, ranking twenty-fourth in ASR. Only one sack on 45 dropbacks is a good sign of that. But, hey, we do get to see what John Abraham might have done in two-tone blue.

4Q-1-10-TEN 49 (5:10) (Shotgun) J.Locker sacked at TEN 42 for -7 yards (J.Abraham).
That the Titans were only sacked one time does not mean that they should’ve been sacked on this play, as this was the Titan’s fourth-longest sack of the year. With no coaches film available, I can’t say what Locker should have done, but among his better options than sitting in the pocket until Abraham has enough time to escape from Stewart and bring him down was taking a step up to his left. One of the things we write at FO is that sacks have an awful lot to do with the quarterback, probably at least as much as they do with the offensive line. This is an example of that.

WEEK 12-VS. TAMPA BAY-Hasselbeck 34 pass attempts, 2 sacks, 4 QB hits
The Bucs were the one team that had fewer sacks than the Titans, only 23. They actually ranked above the Titans in ASR, though, coming in 30th at 5.2%, which is better than 5.0%. That’s what happens when you give up and teams can just run the ball down your throat as well.

2Q-2-12-TB 40 (6:15) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck sacked at TB 46 for -6 yards. FUMBLES, and recovers at TB 48. M.Hasselbeck to TB 45 for 3 yards (A.Haynesworth).
Some of these sacks are fascinating plays and would be very interesting to draw up. This is not one of them. Hasselbeck cocks his arm to pass and drops the ball. The end.

3Q-2-13-TB 32 (4:10) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck sacked at TB 37 for -5 yards (A.Clayborn).
Even at his best, Michael Roos is good for allowing a sack a year that’s entirely his fault. In 2008, Antwan Odom beat him cleanly in Week 2. In 2007, that was bizarrely Tim Crowder in the loss to the Broncos on Monday night. While I’ve mentioned his name in some of the prior sacks, this one is the one that was on him. Clayborn beats him to the outside, gets leverage, shoves him to the ground, then jumps on an escaping Hasselbeck.

WEEK 13-AT BUFFALO-Hasselbeck 25 pass attempts, 1 sack, 1 QB hit
Another week, another team that wasn’t very proficient at rushing the passer. They weren’t quite as bad as the Bucs, but the Bills were 27th in the league in ASR at 5.7%.

3Q-3-6-TEN 24 (13:47) (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck sacked at TEN 14 for -10 yards (N.Barnett).
The Bills rush 6, the Titans protect with 6, and Nick Barnett comes completely free, in case you’re wondering why Chris Johnson doesn’t play more often on third down. What should happen this play is Jake Scott picks up a blitzing Bryan Scott, while CJ picks up Barnett. What instead happens is CJ locks onto (Bryan) Scott as his man, and it’s a double-team on him while Barnett’s unblocked after looping around from his MLB position. It’s possible I’m mis-reading the protection scheme, but I don’t think I am and this one is indeed on CJ.

Weeks 14-17 will be covered in part four on Thursday, and then I’ll be back with part five on Friday to draw some conclusions.