'Tennessee Titans' Offensive Concepts Fall Short for Will Levis in Second NFL Start'
Titans QB Will Levis had a historic NFL debut but struggled in his second game against the Steelers.
On November 2, 2023, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis experienced his first NFL road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium. It was a game that showcased both the highs and lows of Levis' abilities as a quarterback.
In his previous NFL debut against the Atlanta Falcons, Levis had a historic performance, becoming only the third quarterback in pro football history to throw four touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first start. However, in the game against the Steelers, Levis struggled, completing 22 of 39 passes for 262 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. His passer rating dropped significantly from 130.1 in his debut to 66.4 against the Steelers.
It's important to note that Levis' performance against the Falcons was exceptional and not something that could be expected to be repeated consistently. Regression was inevitable after such a standout performance. However, there were instances in the game against the Steelers where the offensive strategy for Levis seemed questionable.
Looking at the metrics from both games, it's clear that there were differences in the play-calling and overall strategy. Against the Falcons, Levis had success with play-action passes and pre-snap motion, completing passes for significant yardage and touchdowns. However, against the Steelers, the number of play-action and pre-snap motion plays decreased significantly, resulting in less success for Levis.
The final two drives of the game for the Titans were particularly perplexing. There was a lack of motion or play-action, which seemed unusual given the success of those strategies in previous games. The Titans seemed to "play with their food" by calling three straight run plays on their first drive after the Steelers' touchdown, resulting in minimal yardage gained. On fourth-and-four, Levis attempted a back-shoulder fade to Treylon Burks, who unfortunately got injured on the play.
The oddity of the situation was that DeAndre Hopkins, a dominant receiver, was not utilized in that crucial moment. The route concepts in the final plays of the game also seemed questionable, with a focus on desperation verticals rather than more strategic plays. This decision-making ultimately led to an interception by linebacker Kwon Alexander.
It's important to note that these observations are not meant to criticize offensive coordinator Tim Kelly or Levis himself. There were various factors at play, including a new starting quarterback, a short week of preparation, and facing a strong Steelers defense. However, it is the responsibility of the coach to maximize opportunities for the quarterback and adjust the game plan accordingly.
Moving forward, the Titans will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their multi-layered defense in Week 10. The extra time before the game will provide an opportunity for the team to analyze and improve upon their performance against the Steelers.