If you didn’t see it this morning, Dan Pompei released an outstanding article for Bleacher Report titled “The Sky's the Limit: Marcus Mariota Is Ready for Superstardom.”
In the piece, Pompei wrote on Mariota’s leadership abilities, recounting interactions he’s had with teammates in the past; he described Mariota’s work ethic and the high opinions of him held by his teammates, even comparing Marcus’s demeanor to that of Peyton Manning; and he detailed the upgrades to the offense’s supporting cast heading into the 2017 season, notably the three new receivers added via free agency and the draft.
The article is extremely well-written and paints our star quarterback in a very positive light.
And it also revealed an immensely interesting detail about the Titans’ offensive plans for 2017.
From Pompei’s article:
This year, Mularkey says he is giving Mariota more responsibility at the line of scrimmage. Mariota has been allowed to choose from two plays at the line in the past. Now he will be allowed to call whatever play he wants if he sees a defensive look that can be exploited.
This is extremely good news for the Titans’ offense.
A freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage should allow the Titans to exploit mismatches, and they should have a lot of mismatches to exploit given all the new weapons.
With two plays to choose from, Mariota likely had the ability to stick with whatever play was called or, if it was a pass play, to switch to a run (and vice versa). This allowed for some flexibility to attack light boxes with a hand-off, or one-on-one outside match-ups, but isn’t nearly as threatening as what we could see in 2017.
The ability to call “whatever play he wants” means he can start to identify what the defense is doing and switch to a play designed to attack that exact coverage look.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be calling an audible before every snap, of course, but when there is a match-up advantage to target, Mariota will find it. This should be especially true in important situations such as crucial third downs and in the area where Mariota already excels, the red zone.
This could also foreshadow an uptick in the use of the no-huddle. The up-tempo offense was one of the Titans’ most effective looks last season, and with the trust of his coaches, Mariota could conceivable call all of the plays through a no-huddle series.
This tracks with reports out of training camp which revealed that the Titans have been working many team periods at an extremely fast pace.
#Titans doing a lot of no huddling right now and the pace is hard to believe— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) August 1, 2017
This is a natural part of Mariota’s growth as an NFL passer entering his 3rd season, and it might be the final element needed to take this Titans’ offense to the next level.