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Chargers-Titans: Reviewing the 1st drive of the defense

Kyle Posey breaks down the Chargers’ first defensive drive of the preseason.

NFL: Preseason-San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

We went over the 1st series from the offense. Now we’ll take a look at the 1st series from the defense. The 1st two plays of the game were rough, but the defense settled in and were able to get off the field after that.

1st and 10


Offense-21, Pro Left

Defense-Base 3-4

Play-Toss Left

Here is how the play looks pre-snap.

The fullback, who is second string running back Derrick Henry, is going to run right and fake the handoff. QB Marcus Mariota opens up as if he’s handing it off to Henry. That action causes all 3 second level defenders to take a false step and puts them out of position from the get go.

Let’s walk through the play full speed from a couple different angles.

The false steps and Kyle Emanuel not beating a down block from a receiver allow this play to be successful for the offense.

You’d like to see Jason Verrett go to the ground there and create a big pile. Dwight Lowery recover a bit sooner so Denzel Perryman can meet the RB in the hole. As good a run defender as he is this is what teams can do to offset Perryman. Get him going sideline to sideline where he has no choice but to win with speed. He didn’t here and that’s the nail in the coffin on a 15 yard gain.

Play 2

1st and 10


Offense-21, Pro Right

Defense-Base 3-4

Play-Play-action 900-860

Here is the pre-snap look at the routes. The defense is in what looks to be a Cover 2 where the CB at the top of the screen, Verrett, is in the flats. With Lowery taking the deep half over him and Brandon Flowers taking the other deep half.

A couple frustrating things with this play. First off, up front Mariota holds the ball for over 4 seconds and if we wanted to he could’ve placed an order for delivery. Second, he stares down where he’s throwing. With Lowery as the safety over top and only having 1 threat to worry about, you would’ve expected him to be there to make a play on the pass sooner. Neither of this happened and thus a big play for the offense.

Here it is full speed

Seeing people commend Lowery for the big hit here is troublesome considering he was late, had 1 threat to worry about, and just gave up a 31-yard play.

Play 3

1st and 10



Defense-Base 3-4


This is how the Chargers have to play if they want to stop the run. Let’s look at how all three levels played here. Let’s start up front. If you want to be a top defense in this league you have to play on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage. The defense does that on this play. Brandon Mebane makes quick work of the right guard. Both edge guys Emanuel and Melvin Ingram get good initial push. Mebane and Ingram end up throwing their guys to the ground.

Then look at the 2nd level play here. Really good stuff by Manti Te’o and Adde here.

Play 4

2nd and 8


Offense-11 Personnel. Trips right-Y Iso. Bubble Screen

Defense-2-4-5, SS Blitz

This is a quick bubble screen to the right. The Chargers are out numbered and this should be a big play for the Titans. Especially once Lowery came off the edge. The difference here is the effort by Brandon Flowers. He makes this play. He fights and fights to keep outside leverage, forcing the WR to cut it back into the flowing defenders. Him being aggressive also is huge here. Let’s take a look.

That’s 2 really strong plays in a row by the defense.

Play 5

3rd & 6


Offense-11 personnel. Gun right, twins left


There is a lot of good and a lot of bad with the defensive call so let’s talk through this.

Good: sending 5 guys

Bad: Blitzing Te’o and Perryman. That’s just not their strengths. Manti never gets there and if Denzel isn’t coming straight at you, he’s probably not going to get there.

Good: Stunting Ingram back up the middle to get him isolated on an interior lineman at full speed.

Good: Leaving Bosa Darius Philon 1-on-1 backside. On 3rd down if you send 5, somebody has to win their 1-on-1. Pagano having the confidence here in Philon speaks volumes to where they think the kid is at as far as getting after the QB.

Bad: Jerry Attaochu in man coverage. They got away with it here but a veteran QB is going to see this, check to a different route, and likely eat him alive.

Back to the play.

Philon surprised the right tackle with power here. That helps collapse and force Mariota to leave the pocket. Philon makes this play here. You’d like to see him finish if you want to get nit-picky.

On the back end love how Lowery and Addae completely leave the other half of the field. Make teams throw it to Verrett. Overload the other side of the field. Addae is there in case of a crosser, Lowery is over top in case Hayward gets beat.

It’s only 5 plays but the 1st team defense had quite a few positives and quite a few negatives. As a team, the tackling is still an issue as is getting off blocks. You’d like to see them play faster as well. Let’s see if that changes Friday night.