Tuesday, November 28, 2006

shotgun bang, what's up with that thang

I have a little thing I do, run weekly football picks pool with a few friends. This week, in making my report, I stumbled on to something which I think might make sense. It's about the Tennessee Titans and New York Giants. Vince Young and Jeff Fisher. Shotgun formation.

What contributed to the Titans incredible comeback, down 21 points in the 4th quarter? Here is what I wrote.

Sandy won, and he could give credit to Mathias Kiwanuka, the rookie defensive end from Boston College (1st round 32 overall) on the New York football Giants, who (for some reason I'm pretty sure even he doesn't understand) let up half way through a sack on Vince Young. This was on a 4th and 10 play in the 4th quarter with the Titans on their own 24 yard line, down by a touchdown and just over 2 minutes to play. Basically a play which could have ended the game but instead Young ended up gaining 19 yards on it and ended up leading the Titans on a game-tying touchdown drive. Some of you (especially Pat) might know of this play, but what might be lost is that on the play before, on 3rd down, Kiwanuka dropped into coverage and made a great stop by knocking down a pass setting up the 4th and long.

Watching that drive, and looking up some facts (you didn't actually think I knew what Kiwanuka's draft history was off the top of my head did you?) it got me thinking. What changed, what happened to allow the Titans to mount such a comeback in the 4th quarter? The answer, might be in the offensive formations used by the Titans. Here is something I guarantee you won't find anywhere else (at least not presented to you on a platter like this, maybe someone else is on to it, but they're probably in Tennessee).

Last year on the Longhorns, Vince Young, in the championship game against USC, he engineered a game winning touchdown drive with plays that were mainly from the shotgun formation. Those (and traditionally all) shotgun formation plays allowed Young to be more mobile. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he primarily worked out of the shotgun formation in his college career. One way for me to verify this is to examine the Longhorns playbook in NCAA football, but I don't know if I need to because some facts here speak for themselves. Below is a table of the Titans yards gained by formation in their game agains the Giants. The first column is with Young under centre, the second is with him out of shotgun. It is further broken down by half, because there is a big difference in what happened in the two halves of that game.

1st Half Under Centre Shotgun
Plays 17 8
Yards 68 54
Avg. 4 6.75
2nd Half

plays 7 27
Yards 24 185
Avg. 3.43 6.85

plays 24 35
Yards 92 239
Avg. 3.83 6.83

Included in that table is the drive in the 4th quarter which led to the first Titans touchdown, a drive that consisted solely of plays out of the shotgun formation.

Yeah, so lots of things came into play for that remarkable comeback, but consistent difference in average yards gained between the formations is striking.

I'm thinking that we might see Jeff Fisher employ the shotgun formation more frequently in Titan games in the future.

Putative: adj 1 : commonly accepted or supposed
2 : assumed to exist or to have existed

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