3. Arthur Smith’s play-calling
After the honeymoon period following the Browns game in which everything seemed amazing, reality came crashing down on Tennessee the next two weeks against division rivals. It’s been hard to tell whether new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is holding Mariota back, or vice versa.
However, at the very least Smith deserves his fair share of blame for the offensive struggles over the last two weeks. He has had questionable play calls, such as his second-and-20 inside run to Dion Lewis, followed by calling another second-and-19 run on a later drive to Derrick Henry.
Both are simply unacceptable play calls for an offense that struggles on third downs. Putting the team in third and really long situations on a consistent basis is putting the offense in positions to fail.
I don’t know if that is a sign that he doesn’t trust Mariota to get a chunk play in those situations or just simply chooses to be oblivious to what’s really going to help the team in that situation.
Whatever the case may be, Smith needs to find his way very quickly or this could be another year of this offense holding back an extremely talented defense.