The Titans ran OK in their win against Pittsburgh. Coaches have been emphasizing how helpful it was that they didn’t get hit for losses.
For just the second time all season, the Titans didn’t have any negative run plays. Michael Bonzagni of ESPN Stats & Info provided me with this breakdown.
Titans runs for a loss or no gain, 2012
Week 1: 6 for minus-11
Week 2: 2 for zero
Week 3: 8 for minus-32
Week 4: 4 for minus-8
Week 5: 6 for minus-11
Week 6: 3 for zero
I’m not one for cartwheels over managing to actually not move backward. But the Titans' run game has struggled so badly, and coaches have emphasized it so much, that it’s definitely worth noting when there is forward progress on this issue.
“... Not having any [plays] for loss was huge,” coach Mike Munchak said of the Pittsburgh game. “That’s been plaguing us all year for whatever reason, where you’re handing the ball off and it’s second-and-13 on the next down. That’s the stuff that really hurt us in the games we lost.
“I think last week we didn’t even have a run for zero. I think all of our runs were at least for positive yards. That’s what you need out of your run game, you need a second-and-7. Even if it’s not a great run, it should be a second-and-8 or a second-and-7. I think that was a nice change from what we’ve had the rest of the season.”
It wasn’t too long ago the hope for a handoff to Chris Johnson was for a home run. Now the baseline is a lot more modest: Please at least go forward.