Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Titans’ quarterback competition is competitive, not combative

The Tennessee Titans backup quarterback duel is one of the team’s most exciting position fights during training camp.

Both sophomore quarterback Malik Willis and rookie Will Levis have shown promise, but both have room for growth. This is something they push each other to do.

Willis started last Saturday in the preseason game against the Chicago Bears and led the offense on a 12-play drive for 75 yards that culminated in a 2-yard TD run. Levis was among the first to congratulate Willis as he approached the sidelines.

“The quarterback group needs to be competitive but not combative,” the quarterback’s coach said. Charles London. “They support each other and are happy for each other when they see each other succeed.”

The two quarterbacks took turns in the 23:17 loss. Levis made two consecutive possessions in the second and third quarters, and Willis made two consecutive tackles in the fourth quarter. The snaps were fairly evenly split, with Willis playing 42 (58.3 percent) and Levi’s 30.

The unique situation draws attention as the experienced incumbent, Ryan Tannehill, He’s the only other quarterback on the roster. Although he hasn’t played in preseason in recent years, this is the first time he’s been through such a competition.

Head coach Mike Vrabel resigned, allowing assistant head/defense coach Terrell Williams to oversee the game as head coach. This allowed Vrabel to assess the game without having to worry about gameplay. The decision to switch quarterbacks was made during a coach’s meeting Thursday, led by Williams. The offensive coordinator, Tim Kelly, lives in London They stuck to the flow of the game to determine what the rotation would be like, leaving each quarterback anxious to hear their number.

“I’m not sure how often other teams do that,” he said. Kelly’s rotation schedule for the game “We used it, and it worked for us.”

Vrabel said the rotation was similar to some other situations any player might face during the regular season as a substitute, where they have to step out and execute without warning if they’re being pushed onto the field when the starter isn’t available.

Now there isn’t much of a split between Willis and Levis, but Willis seems to have a small advantage after the first preseason meeting.

Willis completed 16 of 25 pass attempts for 189 yards, was intercepted once, and was carried three times for 22 yards. Willis also showed great patience as he orchestrated a 60-yard drive that ended in a 37-yard field goal by Caleb Shudak just before halftime.

The Titans used a lot of their training sessions to focus on executing the 2-Minute Offense effectively. These stations prepared Willis for exactly this scenario last Saturday.

“It’s great when you can do something in training and repeat things over and over again and have the opportunity to take advantage of that in a game,” Willis said.

“He’s what you’d expect from a sophomore quarterback,” Williams said.

The biggest difference for Willis so far is his comfort level. It was a big change for him as a rookie. Willis finished last season with a 1-3 record, filling in for an injured Hill.

In college, Willis worked mostly in the shotgun formation, and the language in the huddle was much shorter, but now in his sophomore year, the former third-round pick feels “I speak the same language,” unlike last season when everything was so foreign to him.

That comfort has turned into trust.

“It’s the way he walks around the facility with a little hopping,” Vrabel revealed of Willis. “It’s there, focused. You hear it, you see it.”

On the pitch, Willis has so far been better able to discuss his progress. Vrabel said he never wanted to limit Willis’ ability to break away for a long-leg run, and he liked what he’s seen about Willis’ growth in finding a receiver for a potentially bigger win.

Levis, who finished the day 9 of 14 for 85 yards, is also able to make plays on the move. He had an interception in his debut. Levis has been working on touching the ball better to give his receivers a better shot at distance after the catch. The second-round pick shows improvement.

“He shoots at different speeds and puts the ball deep, or he’s able to use his arm talent when needed and force it into narrow windows,” Vrabel said.

A 21-yard pass on Racey McMath compared to Chicago It was a good sign of improvement for Levi’s. The run-deception pass was associated with McMath moving another 11 yards after the catch.

Although he played in a scheme more akin to the professional game, Lexington faced similar challenges as Willis in adapting to the situation in the NFL.

“It’s just a replay,” Levis said. “We have to create these repetitions with the new language and feel more comfortable with it. But I think I’ve shown some improvement.”

Competition for the backup job continues this week, with the Titans traveling to joint training sessions with the Minnesota Vikings, but Vrabel hasn’t committed to the split tactic for next Saturday at US Bank Stadium.

“It’s just the way we decided it (as opposed to…). bears)” Vrabel said. “Maybe we’ll do it differently this week, maybe not.” I’m not sure. But it’s what we thought was best.”

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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