Yesterday we looked at the offensive line and running backs of the Colts, today we're going to look at the Colts' two premier defensive ends, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, or Frathis (although my father pointed out to me today that "Meeney" may be a better option).
Throughout the last four weeks, the Pro-Bowl duo has been very ineffective during the last three weeks, having zero sacks and just five tackles between them. While the injuries to Eric Foster and Drake Nevis in Week Five (the last time either had a sack) definitely had an impact, the complete shutout has been frustrating.
So what are opposing teams doing to slow them down?
Let's take a look at the Titans' strategy. This won't take very long, as the reason why Freeney and Mathis are struggling to get to the quarterback, at least in the Titans game, is very simple.
During the game, the Titans employed quick passes throughout the entire game. Even when Matt Hasselback threw the ball down the field, it was often on simple streak routes, on plays that took very little time to develop.
There were at least seven screen passes thrown, as well as at least 14 quick passes past the line of scrimmage. That's 21 of the 34 passes with Freeney and/or Mathis in the game. Often times during those quick passes, Freeney and Mathis would be very close to getting to the quarterback, and from my observations actually did a very good job of trying to get pressure with very little results.
The Titans also used chips by the running back and tight end to disrupt the timing of the ends, specifically on Freeney. On one play, Freeney actually got knocked on his back because the chip from the tight end was so unexpected. There's not much else to say about that subject, but know that at least in this game, the ends lack of production was not due to a lack of effort or lack of success by the ends, just a terrific game plan by the Titans.