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An upbeat Marcus Mariota said he thinks he will be running full speed in two to three weeks and will be the same quarterback he was for the Tennessee Titans when he fully returns from the broken right fibula he suffered on Dec. 24, 2016.
The top two picks in the 2015 NFL draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, each have their teams in the playoff hunt this season. While they have gotten their teams to this point in different ways, they have also shown a few similarities.
Today, using examples from the tape, let’s examine Mariota’s second-year growth at the position and discuss how the Titans can further his development with concepts and personnel upgrades to maximize his talent base within the offensive scheme.
In that giant season in Dallas in 2014, Murray had 356 carries for 1,675 yards and 11 touchdowns when the quarterback was under center and 35 carries for 169 yards and two TDs when he was in shotgun.He went from 90.8 percent of his runs coming out of plays with the quarterback under center to 84.9 percent of his runs coming out of shotgun plays last season in Philadelphia.
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Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Marcus Mariota is doing well in his rehab from a broken fibula but said that the team plans to be “very cautious” with the quarterback, who will likely miss the team’s summer work.
“But I also think pro coaches and scouts have to adapt to the changing game at the lower levels. I have coached a spread offense at the high school level the last two years. We run up-tempo, work out of the gun, etc. However, the route concepts and reads are no different than a ‘pro-style system.’
“Mariota and the Titans should be a prime example of how the position is changing. cheap Pro bowl jerseys and spread concepts mixed together. Tennessee is downhill, power run with pro concepts that are also paired with QB designed runs, run-pass options, etc.
“The point here, in my opinion, is to cater to the position, given the development of QBs starting in high school. Make them comfortable. Adjust the playbook. And put them in a position to succeed based on their skill set. That’s coaching. You can’t take a kid who has run a spread system since the age of 14 and throw him into a pro-style box. That’s poor management.”
The trend is not new, and teams have to bend at least some to accommodate the guys they are bringing in. The clock on quarterbacks coming into the league today dictates that they play quickly and get judged too early.
Marcus Mariota played in a spread offense at Oregon. To their credit, the Tennessee Titans’ brass at the time — general manager Ruston Webster and coach Ken Whisenhunt — saw that Mariota could do what is needed in the NFL; he just wasn’t asked to do much of it in college. But projecting that might not have been so hard, considering the skill set Mariota has shown since he came into the league as the second pick in the 2015 draft.
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“Yesterday in the second half of the game, he was moving around pretty good,” Whisenhunt said. “In fact, a couple times he was out of the pocket. I think the big test was what he was like today, so it was positive that he was able to move around today. Once again, we’re not going to do anything to put him in any kind of jeopardy, so that’s going to be determined by how he progresses this week.”
Mariota said after the game that he didn’t consider the hit to be malicious, and Vernon apologized to him.
“There are great things here that have allowed me to push the envelope a little bit, whether it’s jogging, or doing some other stuff on the AlterG [anti-gravity] treadmill and stuff like that,” he said on the first day of the team’s offseason program.
“I think whenever there’s an example of a unique or foreign style that’s transferring with some success to the NFL game, it’s going to make more teams a lot less standoffish,” one personnel man said. “NFL teams have no choice but to adapt to what the college game and current talent pool is giving them now on a multitude of fronts, even if it involves tailoring their own current systems to these prospects if they want them to actually play and have some success.
He struggled in the first four weeks of the season, but he has cut down on killer turnovers, and since Week 5 he’s second in the NFL with a 117.7 passer rating thanks largely to 21 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. Mariota is deadly in the red zone, where he has yet to throw an interception in his career.