The Tennessee Titans offense without quarterback Marcus Mariota running the show is tough to stomach. Can the Titans offense function without Mariota?
Ugly in Miami
The Titans-Dolphins game was hard to watch. Instead of focusing on the poor officiating, the spotlight will be on how dysfunctional the Titans offense was with quarterback Matt Cassel at the helm.
The offense was completely out of sync. Mariota has established a rhythm and tempo with his offensive unit. When he is locked in, so are his teammates. The subtle movements/timing Mariota built is impossible to replicate, no matter who the backup quarterback is.
Cassel, the 35 year old vet, is in good graces with the Titans coaching staff. His familiarity with the offense earned him a contract extension in the offseason. However, familiarity and execution are two vastly different subjects.
Cassel looked anything but comfortable behind center, throwing some shaky off-target passes and eating grass several times throughout. It is clear the Tennessee Titans have to invest in a quarterback with a similar skill-set to Mariota, or change the offensive scheme altogether.
The defense could’ve had more rest with Mariota moving the offense. The Titans defense need to have adequate rest in order to play at a high level. It was evident by Wesley Woodyard’s cramps, or Jurrell Casey getting oxygen on the sideline, the weather and high rep count wore the defense down.
Miami’s 16-10 home victory must force the Titans to think about some roster adjustments that could be made in the event Mariota is out longer than expected.
Mariota’s Uncertain Return
Mariota was hopeful to play against the Dolphins. An unhealthy Mariota may have had the offense functioning more efficiently. Mariota at full health would have trounced the Dolphins. The risk of aggravating the hamstring injury outweighed the reward of winning the football game, according to the Titans coaches.
But, how long will Mariota be out? Conflicting reports make his return date uncertain.
Marcus Mariota’s recovery time from the time of the injury was 2-4 weeks, source said. https://t.co/FVVZOsEDB6
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 8, 2017
Head Coach Mike Mularkey still considers Mariota day-to-day.
Mularkey on Mariota's timetable: "You can listen to NFL Network or you can listen to me. When I say day to day I tell it like it is."
— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) October 8, 2017
It’s hard to chose which source to believe. Mularkey is directly plugged into Mariota’s recovery, but he’s been known to bend the truth. He reported everybody would play in the Titans preseason finale, and that didn’t happen.
The Titans need Mariota, no matter what percentage he is health-wise, moving forward if the team still plans to contend in the AFC South.
The Titans must find a way to adjust the offensive gameplan in a way that would allow Mariota to play. The scheme must be build around his limited mobility. Eliminate the options, trickery and multiple motions and trust the offensive line to protect their quarterback.
Mariota in the shotgun is an effective passer. Allow him to build on his skills of reading defenses, finding his reads and taking what the defense gives him. It could be a great opportunity to showcase the fact that he’s not just dangerous with his legs.
The Titans haven’t competed on primetime television since 2014. Tennessee makes their return to Monday Night Football next week against the division rival Indianapolis Colts. The Titans need Mariota as he provides the team with the best chance to win.
Mariota will continue to be monitored closely throughout the week. Instead of rolling through the same gameplan and preparing to play without Mariota, it is imperative the coaching staff develop an offense that can feature Mariota – injured or not.
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