The Tennessee Titans won their first postseason game last year since 2003. If they want to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons their quarterback must improve.
Tennessee has improved since drafting Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Titans have finished over .500 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2007 and 2008 and made the playoffs last season.
However, Mariota has yet to take the next step in development as a pro quarterback and he’s is trying to improve that this offseason, specifically with his footwork.
“It’s tough because it’s hard to break old habits,” Mariota told Jason Wolf, of The Tennessean. “I think for a long time I’ve been playing with such a narrow base. If I’m able to accomplish, really, that goal of mine, to stay in a good solid base throughout, I think I can make a lot of the throws that are asked of me in this offense. As I continue to be out here, I’ve just got to continue to be mindful of it and find ways to just self-correct and just get better.”
The 2017 season was Mariota’s worst of his three-year pro career. Despite throwing for 3,232 yards he only threw 13 touchdowns. What stood out the most were his 15 interceptions, a career high. He threw the third most interceptions in the entire league; the only two players that threw more were Cam Newton and DeShone Kizer.
In an effort to help Mariota become a better quarterback, Tennessee hired offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. Before joining the Titans, LaFleur was the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams.
LaFleur played a key role in the development of quarterback Jared Goff, who threw for 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He helped guide the Rams become the top scoring team in the NFL in 2017.
It wasn’t a complete disaster for Mariota in 2017. According to Pro Football Focus, he had the highest passer rating on play action in the regular season and was one of the league’s most efficient passers under pressure.
Earlier this offseason the Titans picked up Mariota’s fifth-year option. There is no doubt that he is in the team’s long-term plans. But, the team can’t afford another poor season from Mariota or they will quickly fall behind in a very competitive AFC South.