The Analytics of the Titans' Week 2 Offensive Performance


Jake Downard is a law student who creates NFL and NBA content focused on analytics on Twitter as @JakeAndBall. He also works with fanspo.com. Today's his first post at PaulKuharsky.com where we are going to see what you think of his analytics and stats work.


Before I dive into the analytics of the Titans Week Two matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers, it is important to contextualize each advanced statistic that I will be referencing.

Ryan Tannehill
  Ryan Tannehill/ Angie Flatt

While I will incorporate basic counting stats like completion percentage, targets, and yards, other lesser-known numbers are helpful as well, so here is a quick breakdown of those abbreviations that will hopefully make them look less like hieroglyphics. [Unlocked]

EPA/ Expected Points Added: Per Pro Football Focus, EPA is “the difference in Expected Points before and after each play. Expected Points is an estimate of how many points a team will score on a drive, given the current situation (down, distance, time remaining, etc.).” In other words, if a team has a big punt return and starts its drive on the opponent’s 20-yard line, its Expected Points on that drive are higher than they would be if the opposing punter pinned it inside its own 5-yard line. Put succinctly, a positive EPA means a player is contributing to putting points on the board.

EPA/play: Expected Points Added per play.

CPOE: Completion Percentage Over Expected. This metric factors in the air yardage, coverage, routes, and more to create an expected benchmark completion percentage. Obviously, the higher your completion percentage is, the better. ut CPOE creates a benchmark, and in turn, gives more credit to passes completed 40 yards downfield than check-downs to an open RB at the line of scrimmage. If a quarterback’s CPOE is +5.5%, that quarterback completed 5.5% more passes than expected.

Success Rate: A metric that grades each individual play based on the situation. For example, a 2-yard carry on fourth-and-1 may be deemed a successful play whereas the same 2-yard run on third-and-13 would be deemed an unsuccessful play.

Air Yards: An average of the distance a quarterback’s passes travel beyond the line of scrimmage, in the air.

OK, here we go…

There is a compelling case to be made that Ryan Tannehill’s performance in New Orleans was the worst of his career. Three interceptions, dreadful processing, unstable in the pocket, bad on third downs, and even worse in play action. The eye test told us he was bad, the counting stats reinforced that notion, and the advanced metrics agreed wholeheartedly. Tannehill finished 31st out of 32 QBs in CPOE, 23rd in EPA/play, and 32nd in EPA+CPOE. With a completion percentage of 48.5, Tannehill’s CPOE was -16.1%.

The matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers was one of the biggest of Tannehill’s career because he needed a bounce back to settle things down. As a 35-year-old veteran on an expiring contract with QBs drafted in back-to-back years sitting behind him, Tannehill had to answer. And he did.

Ryan Tannehill vs. LAC: 20/24 (83.3%), 246 Pass Yds, 2 Total TD, 0 INT, 123.3 Passer Rating.

A week after grading out as arguably the worst QB in the NFL, Tannehill led the league in CPOE on Sunday at a highly impressive +16.4%. In my Week Two preview on X (formerly Twitter), I said that I expected Tannehill’s Air Yards to drop significantly from the 9.0 we saw in Week One. Instead, we saw that number remain virtually the same at 8.8 against LAC.

The Titans did work the short routes early, but the script completely flipped after Tannehill’s 70-yard strike to Treylon Burks in the second quarter that led to the Titans’ first TD of the season. After a rough start (-3 yards of offense through three drives), Tim Kelly drew up the deep shot and Tannehill executed it to perfection. That ball traveled 60 air yards and ultimately changed the game for the Titans offense.

After the slow start on the first three drives of the game, Tannehill had a day. His EPA/play, CPOE, completion percentage, air yards, and EPA+CPOE were all Top Five in the NFL from quarters 2-4 (and OT). Many Titans said, the shot to Burks completely changed the outlook of the game for the Titans and the stats reflected it too.

One week after targeting DeAndre Hopkins on 39.3% of his passing attempts, Tannehill looked all over the field and found a lot more success.

  • DeAndre Hopkins: 5 targets (20.8%)
  • Treylon Burks: 4 targets (16.7%)
  • Derrick Henry: 4 targets (16.7%)
  • Chig Okonkwo: 4 targets (16.7%)
  • Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 3 targets (12.5%)
  • Tyjae Spears: 2 targets (8.3%)
  • Chris Moore: 1 target (4.2%)
  • Trevon Wesco: 1 target (4.2%)

Rather than forcing the ball to Hopkins, Tannehill often times made the right read, stepped up into the pocket, and delivered the ball to the open man on Sunday. Burks and Moore each registered explosive plays on deep balls, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine got loose for a TD to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, and Hopkins found a seam for 14 yards to set up the game-winning FG in OT.

While it is important to find opportunities to get the ball into the hands of your best players, the Titans have much better weapons as a whole than they did last season. I expect Tannehill to continue to spread the ball around as the year goes on with the improved supporting cast compared to 2022 (no disrespect to Robert Woods and Cody Hollister).

While some may see the performance against the Chargers’ weak secondary as an outlier after the Saints game, there is encouraging data available to us regarding the accuracy of aging QBs.

After the matchup in New Orleans last week, I did some research on the CPOE of notable aging QBs over the last several years. Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning all took visible steps back in their final years as starting QBs in the NFL. How did it affect their CPOE?

Ben Roethlisberger in 2020: -1.1% CPOE

Ben Roethlisberger in 2021: -2.4% CPOE


Phillip Rivers in 2019: +3.7% CPOE

Phillip Rivers in 2020: +0.8% CPOE


Matt Ryan in 2021: 1.7% CPOE

Matt Ryan in 2022: 0.0% CPOE


Eli Manning in 2018: 0.4% CPOE

Eli Manning in 2019: -2.6% CPOE

In other words, even as recent quarterbacks have finished their careers with less-than-ideal curtain call seasons, their accuracy has not fallen off that dramatically. If this is the year Tannehill takes a visible step back as the above QBs did in their final year, the data suggests that the Saints game will be an outlier as we evaluate his numbers at the end of the season.

The largest drop-off in CPOE was Eli Manning from 2018 to 2019, who dropped -3.0%. Tannehill’s CPOE in 2022 was 0.7% after 2.3% in 2021. Since he is 35 years old, it is entirely reasonable to anticipate his accuracy to dip slightly from 2022.

I could also argue that with an improved group of pass catchers and an offensive line that appears to be at least marginally better than in 2022, it is entirely reasonable to expect Tannehill’s ball placement and accuracy to increase slightly. Regardless, the data refutes the notion that he will be anywhere near as inaccurate throughout the season as he was in New Orleans.

As Tannehill bounced back in a massive way, how does this affect the offensive philosophy moving forward? If Tannehill can continue to find success with play action, teams may become reluctant to play stacked boxes as often.

Derrick Henry has seldom had the luxury of running into neutral/light boxes since the A.J. Brown trade. Tim Kelly and Co. would certainly like to see Henry and Tyjae Spears running into six- and seven-man fronts more often as the offensive line continues to gel. Contrary to last year, we may actually see the Titans' play-action game set them up for success in the run game at times this season.

After 10 months to the day without a win, the Titans finally found a way on Sunday against a good Chargers team that is expected to be in the playoff hunt in a few months. Tannehill answered the phone, Spears and Henry each had success at times, and everybody got involved in the passing attack.

If Tannehill can build off this performance, the Titans may piece together an efficient, dare I say, above-average offense in 2023.

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