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Analysis: Tricky Titans show why you should always expect the unexpected

Here’s how running back Demarco Murray threw a touchdown pass on Sunday.

SUNDAY’S WEEK 10 game between the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers featured one of the most surreal starts to an NFL match-up that I’ve ever seen.

The Titans opened the game with a surprise onside kick which the Packers recovered with ease.

However, as would be the case for most of the day, the Green Bay offence proved ineffective on the drive and were forced to punt after going three-and-out.

On the Titans very first offensive play, running back Demarco Murray sprinted 75 yards untouched into the endzone to open the scoring.

After the Packers stuttered on offence again, Tennessee marched down the field and Murray followed up his rushing score with a passing one by finding tight end Delanie Walker for their second touchdown of the day.

If you missed it, here’s how it looked on TV:

Source: NFL Gamepass

Pre-Snap Read: Offence

While the set-up for most teams in the NFL is 11 personnel, the Titan have their 13 personnel on the field meaning one running back and three tight ends.

Murray (yellow) is in the backfield while Walker (red) is lined up to the right of the line of scrimmage with in a bunch formation with fellow TEs Phillip Supernaw (black) and Anthony Fasano (blue).

Source: NFL Gamepass

This is the first part of the trick the Titans are about to pull off. 13 personnel is almost always a power-running formation, but this is a handy reminder that, while offensive personnel and formations can tip a defence off as to what is about to come, it can also be used to trick them.

Pre-Snap Read: Defence

Just like they were when the Falcons exposed them two weeks ago, the Packers are in their 2-4-5 nickel sub-package, which features two defensive linemen, four linebackers and five defensive backs.

As it was then, the idea of this formation is to disguise any blitz that might be coming but the key player to focus on here is strong safety Morgan Burnett (white).

Source: NFL Gamepass

The Packers only rush three in the end as they continue respect the run.

At the Snap

The first thing that should have tipped the Packers defence off that something was amiss was the handoff between quarterback Marcus Mariota and Murray.

While the first four handoffs between the pair looked like this:

Source: NFL Gamepass

Here’s what the trick play handoff looked like:

Source: NFL Gamepass

What happens next

As you can see, after he receives the toss, Murray does a great job of committing to the pretence that he’s running the football.

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Source: NFL Gamepass

On most designed running back throws, the RB shapes to throw like a quarterback as the goal is to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible.

Here though, Murray is trying to buy time for Walker to get through the gap in the coverage and only drops the pretence and adopts a throwing stance when he sees that Walker has broken into the open.

Source: NFL Gamepass

It’s also worth noting here that Burnett, who has the best view on the field of the whole play, has bitten hard on the run and is advancing downfield at a clip to make a tackle on Murray.

This makes the pass quite easy for the running back as Burnett can’t turn back.

Source: NFL Gamepass

Notes

After the score, the broadcasters announced they had seen the Titans run this specific play in practise on Friday but with Murray running to his left.

As you can see, for a right-handed thrower, it’s much easier to throw while running to the right so the coaching staff of the Titans reduced the risk on the play:

Source: NFL Gamepass

>>Read the rest of our Coaches Film series

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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