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Analyzing Taylor Lewan’s play in a contract year

  • zhangzk

    The Tennessee Titans have what is widely regarded as one of the best offensive lines in the league , and left tackle Taylor Lewan is the fiery leader of this line. Notable for his quality of play in addition to his emotions on the field, Lewan has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice in his career (2016 and 2017), and is heading into the fifth year of his career in the NFL, all with the Titans.Lewan is entering a contract year with the Titans, and the expectation is that the team will extend him and keep him in Nashville for a long time. So, with that in mind, just how good is the tackle out of Michigan? Let’s take a quick look. a pass protector, Lewan is good but not quite as good as other top left tackles. While he has some trouble holding the fort against some of the game’s top pass rushers, he has solid hand techniques and is able to defend well against the spin move, such as the play above. other top this play, Lewan shows off his excellent footwork. Here, he bends his feet as the pass rusher Yannick Ngakouetries to get around the edge, allowing him to use his hands up high and give himself the leverage. Lewan is able to recognize that Ngakoue is trying to set up a chop move, so he deflects his hands and allows himself to help give Marcus Mariota a clean’s vision as a pass blocker is also invaluable. Here, Lewan is able to recognize the stunt and is able to protect Mariota inside as the stunt rushers switch positions. Mariota is able to get the pass off in time.Now, I’ve gotten questions about how good Lewan can be in Matt LaFleur’s zone blocking scheme. When the Titans did run zone blocking, Lewan transitioned quite well, a testament to how good his athleticism is. The zone scheme should provide dividends with the run game, which is an area of blocking that shows Taylor Lewan at his best.Taylor Lewan: The rare Titans player to have a successful season in spite of Mike Mularkey and Terry’s value comes into full play as a run blocker. He’s a powerful blocker that contributes to giant passing lanes. In the zone blocking scheme, Lewan should be able to create even bigger holes for backs to run through.So, what kind of contract does Taylor Lewan deserve? Well, he’s not as good as Trent Williams or Tyron Smith, but he’s definitely a top 10 player at the position. If Matt Kalil can be paid $55 million to underwhelm at the left tackle position, then Lewan deserves more.Currently Youth Kevin Byard Jersey , Tyron Smith of the Cowboys is the highest paid left tackle with a $97.6 million contract according Spotrac. Second is Trent Williams of the Redskins with a contract of $66 million. So, a contract extension of at least $60 million would not be a bad option for a player of Lewan’s quality.To conclude, Taylor Lewan is one of the best left tackles in football. He’s a good pass blocker and a great run blocker. It would do the Titans a lot of good to lock down their best offensive lineman for a long, long time to help solidify a quality line.With Delanie Walker out the Titans young pass catchers must grow up in a hurry First, I want to wish Delanie Walker a speedy recovery. Not only has he been the Titans best pass catcher for the last three seasons, but he’s also an incredible leader and tone setter for this team and the Nashville community at large. Seeing him go down trying to fight for extra yards at the end of Sunday’s game was the last thing anyone wanted to witness. It should also be said that Walker is irreplaceable. He’s one of the top two or three all-around tight ends in the NFL right now. He runs great routes, has sure hands, makes plays after the catch, and blocks his tail off every snap. Those types of guys don’t grow on trees and they certainly don’t grow on the picked over tree that is NFL free agency in September. The Titans have Jerome Cunningham on the practice squad if they’d like to call him up to get a fourth tight end back on the roster quickly. They could also give old familiar names like Anthony Fasano, Phillip Supernaw, or Jace Amaro a call. Maybe even reach out to a guy like Coby Fleener if he has a clean bill of health after being released by the Saints earlier this year with a head injury that he was still dealing with from the previous season. All those guys would be depth moves though. None of them — besides Cunningham and Supernaw — would know the offense and frankly these guys just aren’t that good. There isn’t an instant fix on the market like there was at safety. Walker’s contributions, instead, will have to be replaced from within to the extent that they can be. The bulk of this burden will suddenly fall on second year tight end Jonnu Smith. The Titans drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft to be Walker’s long term successor as the team’s leading tight end, but that time frame will be sped up now. In his rookie season, Smith caught 18 passes for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns while being on the field for 54.3% of the Titans offensive snaps. The Florida International product looked natural as a pass catcher. At 6’-3” and 248 pounds, Smith is similar physically to Walker and even offers many of the same explosive athletic traits.What Smith doesn’t have as a pass catcher is the nuanced route running and trust with quarterback Marcus Mariota that Walker had developed over three seasons working as a prime target for the Titans quarterback. Unfortunately — or fortunately depending on your viewpoint — that can only get better with time and reps. Smith will be getting plenty of reps in practice moving forward and will need to take advantage of them. What often gets undersold with Delanie Walker is his prowess as a blocker in the run game. Phantom holding calls aside, Walker is rarely unable to get the job done in the running game. That’s critical for a good tight end as it allows your offense to truly be multiple within the same personnel packages. This is a part of the game that Smith still struggles with. He is a willing blocker, but not a very skilled one at this point in his career. The good news is that blocking is something that can develop over time in the NFL, the bad news is that the Titans don’t have any more time. They need Smith to play well right away.Luke Stocker will certainly see more reps now and can help lighten the blocking load foisted on Smith, but he’s not much of a pass catcher despite his 2 catches for 37 yardsstat line against the Dolphins. Stocker now becomes absolutely critical to the Titans running game. The surprise decision to keep camp standout Anthony Firkser as a 4th tight end now looks pretty good. Firkser, like Smith, is far more receiver than blocker, but he could give the Titans a chance to put some multiple tight end sets on the field that can present a threat in the passing game. His best quality is simply his feel for the game. He has a knack for finding soft spots in the defense and the quickness to beat linebackers. It will be interesting to see how much he is used next week. Of course, Walker was more than “just” a tight end , so it will take more than tight ends to replace him. He was Mariota’s go-to target on third downs, someone that the Titans young quarterback looked for when things broke down. Rishard Matthews seems like the natural fill-in here, but he was virtually invisible in Miami despite being on the field for over 50% of the offensive snaps. That likely has a lot to do with Matthews still being on the mend from a surgery to repair a torn meniscus, but the Titans now need him to be back to his reliable self in a hurry.The go-to receiver for the Titans in Week 1 was clearly Corey Davis who led all Titans with a whopping 13 targets, resulting in 6 catches for 62 yards. I thought Davis played well. Of the 7 targets that landed incomplete, 1 was a desperation throw in the back of the endzone on 3rd down that never gave him a chance, 4 were straight misses from the quarterback (2 for Mariota, 2 for Blaine Gabbert), and 2 appeared to be miscommunications (both with Gabbert, including one where it appeared that Gabbert missed an adjustment that Davis was trying to signal to him pre-snap). I’ll go deeper in to this when the All-22 comes out.If Davis wasn’t already going to be the focal point of the passing game, he certainly will be now. He is the most important non-quarterback on the Titans roster at this point so he needs to stay healthy and be productive. He did a few good things on Sunday, but Tennessee will need a lot more from him moving forward. One other guy that I think factors in to replacing Walker’s production is Dion Lewis. He had an outstanding debut — one of the few bright spots on a gloomy Sunday — and showed his value as a pass catcher out of the backfield. That ability will be extremely important moving forward. It will be interesting to see if the Titans feature more 11-personnel or even go with more 2-back sets in an attempt to get their best 11 on the field together.Walker was targeted at team-high 111 times in 2017 — 24 more than the next closest Titan — so that leaves a ton of opportunity for guys like Davis, Matthews, Smith, and Lewis. Davis was supposed to be ready to take the next step this year anyway, but now that step is more important than ever. Smith, on the other hand, wasn’t supposed to be ready this year, but he has to be now. You never know how a guy will respond when he’s tossed in to the fire. You hope that Smith will step up to the challenge, but we will find out starting next week against Houston. He’s not going to be Walker by any means, but if the Titans can get a passable performance from him and some of his other teammates to rise to the occasion, they may still be OK without their best player on offense.Get well soon Delanie.

    • This topic was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by  zhangzk.
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