TC Fleming here back for a quick double dip regarding Titans football.
One of the really exciting elements of the Titans' offensive playbook is this counter-option stuff they do. They only run it once or twice a game, but it's incredibly neat, and the Football Outsiders already laid out how it goes down.
The members of their staff send emails around to each other on gamedays and then publish them on Monday. In week two they had this insightful stuff on that counter-option:
Aaron Schatz: A thought on Tennessee, from this morning's NFL Matchup: We've written in the past about why the college option play doesn't generally work in the NFL, because the defensive ends are too fast and would just kill quarterbacks. They showed this morning a good wrinkle Tennessee uses to make its option work: counter action. Vince Young generally takes a step or two in one direction, then bootlegs out in the other direction with Chris Johnson behind him for the option pitch. That generally takes the defensive end and the play-side linebacker out of the play, because they are flowing in the other direction with their first step, and it leaves Young and Johnson with one defensive back stuck trying to cover two guys. It will be interesting to see what happens with Pittsburgh -- maybe the Steelers can give the outside linebacker instructions to not follow Young's first step on a handoff and always look to protect the backside, so that poor Ike Taylor or somebody doesn't get stuck having to guess which of those two guys is going to end up with the ball.
Tom Gower: The weird thing about that play in particular was defenses normally learn to key in on CJ's running as he goes playside before reversing field. That play, though, he just stood there. When it first happened, I thought it was a busted play and VY simply ran the wrong way at the snap, but that immobility was actually the latest wrinkle. I suspect one thing they were counting on was McClain as a rookie being overly aggressive, even without CJ moving.
Last year one of their writers, Mike Tanier, had his own take on it which can be found midway down the page here.