Between the Lines: New Orlean Saints at Tennessee Titans
By David Barbour
Posted August 13th, 2006

With the Titans' first preseason game over with, here are some notes to supplement what your eyes saw on the field.

According to Football Outsider's definition of success rate for running backs, Chris Brown had four successful runs out of his nine carries giving him a success rate of 44.4%, which is just below what the league average was last year.  However, he was not gaining many yards past the minimum needed for a successful run.  Take away his long run of 21 yards and Brown only averaged 1.5 yards more than needed to meet the criteria.  He was giving enough, but not much more than that.

Although neither quarterback overwhelmed, the offense did look better when Billy Volek was running it.  Using the definition of a team successful play outlined by Pete Palmer, Bob Carroll and John Thorn in their book, The Hidden Game of Football, the Titans had eleven successful plays and eleven failures with Volek.  The offense had only six successful plays with Young while racking up 21 failing efforts.  Not all of the blame can be placed on Young, though.  Penalties certainly did not help matters.  Another thing to remember is Young found himself in many more third down situations than Volek, situations harder on a rookie quarterback; Young faced eight in twenty-seven plays and Volek only faced four in twenty-one plays.  Of the eight third-downs, the Titans with Young converted two.  The six times they were unable to convert on third down, the average yardage needed was 9.8.  The two successes came when the Titans only needed an average of 4 yards.  Young's struggle with accuracy tonight may be linked to his being asked to pass predominantly in long-yardage situations.

Special teams play by the Titans went relatively well.  Bobby Wade had one long kickoff return before being tackled at midfield.  The Titans scored a touchdown as a result of the superb field position. Courtney Roby had a long kickoff return as well that resulted in a field goal.  Kicker Rob Bironas was the special teams star of the evening.  Three of his kickoffs were downed for touchbacks and overall, the Saints's average starting position after kickoffs was the 21-yard-line.  Bironas also converted three of four field goals, with the lone miss coming on a 56-yard attempt before the first half ended.  As for punter Craig Hentrich, he had a less consistent night.  His first three punts had a net yardage of 44.3 yards and his second three, though none were turned, had a net yardage of 34.5 yards.  One of the latter three punts was muffed by the Saints and recovered by the Titans so the short punt actually turned out to be a good thing, but there was still a drastic drop-off in punts.





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