Daily Focus: Titans RBs dominate San Diego defense
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Titans’ running backs have a field day against porous San Diego defense
Even Joey Bosa couldn’t have saved the Chargers from being run all over as the Tennessee Titans racked up 288 yards on 33 carries and three touchdowns – one each from DeMarco Murray, rookie and former Heisman winner Derrick Henry and Bishop Sankey. Head coach Mike Mularkey has said he wants his team to play “smashmouth” football this year and his two-headed attack of Murray and Henry provided just that with plenty of forced missed tackles and big runs.
Either the Chargers’ run defense is really bad or the Titans’ rushing attack is really good. It’s mostly the former, as the San Diego run defense graded as the worst in the NFL in 2015 with only rookie Denzel Perryman and Jerry Attaochu grading well against run. The Chargers drafted Bosa to help fix the problem but with the team and Bosa in a contract stalemate, their solution is sidelined.
Murray looked much more comfortable in the Titans’ power running scheme as he’s never shown the great vision needed to be a good zone scheme running back. Against San Diego’s first- and second-team defenses, Murray had two runs over 15 yards and gave Titans fans a taste of what they hope to expect during the season as he showed good agility and speed evading FS Darrell Stuckey and outrunning SS Adrian Phillips to the edge and easily breaking his tackle for a 71-yard touchdown run.
Derrick Henry picked up right where he left off in college as Chargers defenders looked like the college players the former Crimson Tide used to plow over. On just ten carries, Henry forced four missed tackles finishing with a superb 168.0 elusive rating while averaging 4.20 Yco/att. These numbers will be unsustainable for an NFL season but the Titans’ brass and fans couldn’t have asked for a better first preseason game.
The best center in the NFL got paid like he deserved
Dallas Cowboys’ center Travis Frederick has agreed to terms of a six-year, $56.4 million extension that makes him the league’s highest-paid center. Reported by Ian Rapoport, the deal has $18.2 million fully guaranteed with up to $28.2 million in total guarantees. The former Wisconsin Badger has graded as the best center in the NFL in each of the past two seasons and the Cowboys have rewarded his play.
Frederick is arguably the best all-around center but the best part of his game is his run blocking ability. No center in the league can match Frederick’s ability to reach 1-techs on outside zone – in fact, no team will ask their center to even do that because of the sheer difficulty of the task. Frederick does so with uncanny ability and has plenty of other moves to add to his repertoire.
In 2014 Frederick ranked sixth in pass blocking efficiency – a rating that measures pressures allowed on a per-snap basis weighted towards sacks – at 97.9. He ranked first in the stat in 2015 as he didn’t allowed a single sack and just one QB hit all season.
Drafted No. 31 overall in the 2013 draft, Dallas was heavily criticized for the pick as many “experts” claimed the team reached for the center as they had him graded as a third-round prospect. It didn’t take very long for Frederick to prove Jerry Jones right as the famous owner/GM has built the best offensive line in the NFL.
Notable rookies from Saturday’s games
While all eyes were on No. 1-overall pick Jared Goff, the rookie QB that had the best game was Dak Prescott (Mississippi State). On 14 dropbacks he was on target for all 12 of his aimed passes, completing 10 of them with two touchdowns and two drops. Prescott’s first game was so impressive that he currently sits atop the QB PFF passing grades.
Titans’ first-round pick RT Jack Conklin struggled in his debut as the transition for college LT to NFL RT is challenging. Often overpowered, the former Michigan State Spartan didn’t do anything to buck the recent trend of struggling first-round offensive tackles. While the top ten pick didn’t allow a sack, he gave up a QB hit and three hurries on just 12 pass blocking snaps. He currently sits third worst overall of all OTs, second worst of rookies, with tonight’s game still left to go.
A favorite of PFF’s in the 2016 draft, DI Chris Jones showed the explosiveness and power against an overmatched Seattle Seahawks offensive interior. Jones was disruptive up the middle notching three hurries on just 17 pass rushing snaps along with clogging running lanes in the run game. The Seahawks offensive line is arguably the worst in the NFL so his performance comes with a slight asterisk, but the fact that Jones was able to be so disruptive is a promising start.