Keeping Momentum Following the Half and Maintaining the Lead Heading into the 4th
The total number of points Ken Whisenhunt’s Titans scored in the third quarter is 121. In 23 games, that averages about 5 points/per 3rd quarter. Mike Mulakey’s team scored a total of 95 points. This averages to 4 points/per 3rd quarter. The averages suggest neither coach was highly productive offensively following the half.
Offense in the First
Whisenhunt’s team scored 15 total touchdowns in the 3rd quarter (65%). In 7 of 23 games, the Whisenhunt led team was scoreless in the third (30%). Mularkey’s team has been shut out 8 times in the 3rd quarter (32%).
The most points Whisenhunt put up in a 3rd quarter is 17 against the Colts in 2015. Mularkey has never put up more than 8 points – which he did twice in 2015 against the Raiders and the Jets.
Mularkey’s team scored 11 total 3rd quarter touchdowns (44%). The Mularkey-led Titans typically came out flat after the half and were unable to put up double digits.
Defense in the First
Defensively, Whisenhunt’s team allowed 125 points, which was 3 points more than the Mularkey-led team with 122. The Whisenhunt-led team allowed 17 opponent touchdowns in the third stanza.
The Mularkey-led team allowed 12 touchdowns in the 3rd. Whisenhunt’s team kept opponents scoreless in 7 third quarters (30%). Mularkey’s team held opponents to zero points in 8 out of 25 3rd quarters (32%). Half of the scoreless quarters came in the last 6 weeks of the 2016 season.
The most points Whisenhunt’s team allowed in the 3rd quarter is 14 – twice. Both times against division opponents – once against the Colts and the other against the Texans. The most points Mularkey’s team has allowed in the third is 17 – which also was against an AFC South foe – the Texans.
Mularkey and the Titans defense began to figure out how to shut teams out in the third quarter towards the end of that season. Hopefully, the momentum will carry over with the new additions to Dick LeBeau’s scheme.
Playing from Behind and Protecting the Lead
Whisenhunt’s team was outscored in the 3rd quarter in 10 of 23 games (43%). Mularkey’s was outscored in the 3rd quarter in 13 of 25 games (52%). Whisenhunt’s record was 0-10 in games he was outscored in the 3rd. Again, winless. Mularkey’s record is 5-8 when outscored in the third period of play (38%).
Whisenhunt had a lead after 3 quarters in 8 of 23 games (35%). His record when leading after three is 3-5 (38%). Mularkey’s team had a third quarter lead in 9 of 25 games (36%). His record is 8-1 when having the lead after three quarters (89%).
Compared to Whisenhunt, Mularkey had a much higher chance – and much better roster – to protect the lead and escape with a win.
The third quarter of play was neither coach’s strong suit. They lost games in the third quarter – either due to inability to score or inability to prevent scoring that affected who led at the start of the 4th.
Expect Mularkey to approach the 3rd quarter more aggressively following the half. If the Titans have a lead, I anticipate he’ll go for the throat this season.
He has before.
And his 89% victory rate when leading after three shows he knows how to finish. The infusion of offensive weaponry should increase chances of scoring.
That’s the plan, right?
***I do not claim any credit for photographs featured in this post. All credit goes to respective author(s). Statistics referenced at nfl.com.***