Arthur Smith Taylor Lewan Season Ending Injury Risks Passing Offense

Why Taylor Lewan’s Injury Might Limit Arthur Smith’s Passing Game

  • Tennessee Titans
By TreJeanWatkins October 23, 2020 0 Comment
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Taylor Lewan’s season ending injury should give Arthur Smith some second thoughts on how aggressive he should be in the passing game.

Tennessee Titans OC Arthur Smith and his aggressive nature as a play caller, have turned a previously dormant Titans offense into one that is expected to score each time the opportunity presents itself. Here’s why Taylor Lewan’s injury might limit Arthur Smith’s Passing Game.

The finesse as a play designer, the habit of not taking the foot off the gas pedal, these two abilities have allowed Smith to truly thrive during his time as OC of the Tennessee Titans. But the aggressive part of Smith’s mindset might have to be put on hold for some time. At least until the offense has shown it can function the same way without Taylor Lewan.

Lewan’s season ending knee injury has put the Titans’ offense in somewhat of a bind. Not only do they lose a reliable form of protection, they lose a key cog to how they want to run things schematically on offense.

The Titans run an offense that’s littered with play action. The long developing intermediate routes accompany the play action game, which combines to make one well oiled mean offensive machine.

It’s been able to work wonders because of the stellar play from Ryan Tannehill & Derrick Henry. But the importance of the pass protection needed to make everything work can’t be forgotten.

Removing Lewan from the equation doesn’t make things entirely dicey, but they start to get a little difficult. Lewan is an exceptional athlete for his size, and the all important position he plays. His quick feet and powerful first punch make handling pass rushers look easy, giving the Titans a lot of room to play around with the playbook from time to time.

But with Lewan now out of the lineup, the Titans’ offensive outlook has shifted a bit.

Why?

Lewan’s replacement might give you some clues.

Taylor Lewan’s Replacement

Replacing Lewan going forward will be offseason acquisition Ty Sambrailo. Now Sambrailo isn’t some slouch by any means, but his game possesses some crucial holes, and they might be exploited a good amount this upcoming week, and the rest of the year.

Sambrailo struggles to consistently protect against speed and power rushers. He either gets his hands up too late and gets fooled during his pass sets, or he fails to move his feet quick enough, leading to him getting beat off the edge with speed. Either way, those sorts of flaws in his pass sets can and will come back to bite him.

We saw it when Lewan went down in week 3 against Minnesota and Sambrailo filled in. Yannick Ngakoue immediately got snaps against Sambrailo and completely embarrassed the ex-Atlanta Falcon.

JJ Watt took his turn leaving Sambrailo in the dust as well. This time, during the Titans’ most recent game against the Houston Texans.

These 2 clips don’t 100% tell the story of Sambrailo’s play in 2020. I mean it’s easy to understand why.

But if you’ve closely followed this team, you’d know Sambrailo has been far from good this season. It’s why he’s a swing tackle and nothing more, but of course due to Lewan’s injury, he’s being thrown into the fire.

Ty Sambrailo’s Status Moving Forward

I’ll say this.

After JJ Watt breezed by him for a strip sack, Sambrailo settled down and found his groove. He was a force as a run blocker, and was pretty steady in pass protection as well.

However, it’s hard to gauge future success when you manhandle the Texans’ defensive line. If you’re new to these things, Houston doesn’t possess a lot of difference makers in their front 4.

If Sambrailo can stay steady against a ferocious Pittsburgh Steelers pass rush, then you can ease your worries a bit. Until then, I think it’d be wise for Arthur Smith to limit the amount of 1v1s Sambrailo receives in pass protection.

Send some help his way in the form of an extra tight end, or even chip the pass rusher Sambrailo will be tasked with keeping tabs on. Do something to make sure he isn’t on an island for much of the game.

Because if the majority of his snaps are a tell all of what you can expect from Sambrailo moving forward, then Arthur Smith might need to lean a little on the conservative side regarding the passing game.

 

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Tre'Jean Watkins covers the Tennessee Titans for The Brawl Network and writes for Black Sports Online. Member of the Professional Football Writers of America.

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