Looking at the Marcus Mariota and Matt LaFleur Pairing
The hiring of OC Matt LaFleur should excite many people, but nobody should be more excited than Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota.
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel won over a lot of fans at his introductory press conference by simply stating: “We’re not going to run at eight or nine guys. We’re not going to be silly”. Vrabel followed that up by bringing ex-Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur on board. These moves have the fan base re-energized, and it’s up to Marcus Mariota to take full advantage.
LaFleur has a great pedigree when it comes to quarterbacks. What interested me the most is the adaptive ability he has shown through his stops. Between being the quarterback coach of Robert Griffin III during his Rookie of the Year season and being the offensive coordinator of one of the NFL’s elite offenses last season, he has been able to help his quarterbacks produce at a high level despite their different skill sets. Quarterbacks like Griffin, Matt Ryan, and Jared Goff all had career-best years under LaFleur.
Watching those past offenses, they’re heavy on play-action and deception. You consistently see motions on almost every snap and they work to set up certain plays throughout a game. With Griffin, they also ran a good amount of quarterback draws and other plays that allowed him to use his athleticism. That type of offense seems destined for Mariota, who thrives in all of those aspects.
Not to mention, Mariota was first in yards per attempt off of play action in 2017 per Pro Football Focus, with Goff finishing second while playing under LaFleur.
This past season, it was evident that the fourth-year quarterback’s footwork was off. His upper and lower body weren’t in sync, causing you to see some wild/off-target throws. The past staff preached attention to detail, but they never held the quarterback to the same standard they outlined. Former QB coach Jason Michael was a converted tight ends coach from the Ken Whisenhunt era, not really making him the best person to grow and develop a young franchise quarterback.
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LaFleur and new QB coach Pat O’Hara are actual quarterback coaches. They both have experience developing and grooming younger signal callers. This is a first for Marcus in his career, which is disappointing but also promising, as we finally have some people in the building that are prepared to help him reach his full potential.
There’s no question that Marcus Mariota is talented; despite his down year, he has shown that he has what it takes to be a top passer in this league. Even with his inconsistent play, the team was still able to make the playoffs and make a run. Our quarterback is a winner, and that’s evidenced by his league-lead in game-winning drives in the fourth quarter in 2017.
He has just needed someone to help him take full advantage of his talents, which seems to have finally happened.