It’s in a football fans DNA to make comparisons, but Tennessee Titans fans need to quit trying to draw conclusions about Marcus Mariota by using Robert Griffin III as a model. The Titans first-round draft pick appears to be more grounded in reality than the former Baylor star, and he seems to have a better handle on how the offense works. Marcus Mariota is comfortable in his own skin, and honestly, doesn’t appear to have the ego problems that continue to short-circuit RGIII.
Although Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt shouldn’t be described as a proponent of designed quarterback running plays (at least not to his face), he nonetheless understands it would be silly to completely confine the nimble Mariota to the pocket.
"“Let’s just say this: We want him to do some of the things he’s comfortable with,” Whisenhunt told me this week. He knows the sooner Mariota becomes comfortable, the better it is for the Titans."
Former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who presided over Griffin’s stellar rookie season and then the beginning of his fall from grace in DC thinks so.
"“As a coach, you have to understand your personnel; don’t try to turn a quarterback into something he’s not,” Shanahan told ESPN.com. “If you have a guy who’s not used to playing in the pocket … maybe he’ll get there in time. Maybe he won’t.“But you have to utilize his ability. You don’t stick with the coach’s philosophy if that’s not what the player can do right away. It just won’t work. These guys, these defensive coordinators in the NFL, are pretty darn smart. Believe me, they see everything. You’re not going to fool anyone. And if you try, you could wind up hurting the player. Before you know it, he could be out of the league.”"
Marcus Mariota says he’s focusing on routes, progressions — not a favorite target – Paul Kuharsky ESPN
A security blanket sure sounds like a good idea for a rookie quarterback who attempts to find his way in the NFL.
"“I don’t think you can key in on one guy, the defenses in this league are too smart for that,” Mariota said early in organized team activities. “So for me, I’m just going to build a relationship with every guy, learn how every guy is, build that chemistry and be ready to go.“It comes down to executing every play that the coaches ask from you. I’m not too big on having a favorite play or having a favorite receiver. I think if you’re able to distribute the ball to everybody, everyone is going to make plays for you and you’ll put your offense in the best situation.”"
One of the knocks on Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger last season was that he took too many knocks.
Playing at times behind a patchwork offensive line as a rookie, Mettenberger was sacked 18 times in six starts.
But as he prepares for his second NFL season — and as he distances himself further from the torn ACL he suffered in college — Mettenberger is looking more fluid in the pocket, less rooted to one spot.
With OTA’s well underway, multiple reports have come in that state Titans inside linebacker Zach Brown has been very strong in his return to action thus far in the offseason programs. That is good news for Titans fans, because if he stays healthy this year, Brown and second-year player Avery Williamson could be a dominant force in Dick LeBeau’s defense.
Brown was poised for a breakout season last year for the Titans in their first season in the 3-4 defensive scheme. In his previous two seasons, he racked up a combined 184 total tackles (140 solo), 9.5 sacks and 10 passes defended. He averaged two interceptions and a forced fumble in each of his first two seasons.