Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/Editor, TitansOnline.com
Quarterback Marcus Mariota and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur are five months into their partnership with the Titans. In time, they’ve developed a better understanding of each other while seeing improvement on the field.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur was bragging about his starting quarterback on Tuesday, and Marcus Mariota just happened to walk by in the middle of it.
“First of all, like I’ve said all along, he is a great person,” LaFleur said of Mariota. “And I think he is extremely coachable …”
At that exact moment, Mariota, within earshot, came strolling out the door at Saint Thomas Sports Park on his way to the practice field.
It was time to get to work. In a matter of minutes, the two men would be huddling on the field to talk about the day’s work.
“It is always fun to come to work every day when you enjoy being around the people you are working with,” LaFleur said. “And he has been extremely enjoyable. I think he has a lot of competitive juices that don’t always show to everybody out there. He is extremely competitive, and I know he is working his tail off each and every day and is putting his best foot forward to being the best player he can become.”
Mariota, heading into his fourth NFL season, is adjusting to a new head coach, and a new offensive coordinator as he prepares for the 2018 season.
The Titans wrap up organized team activities this week. Next week, the team will hold a three-day minicamp.
Mariota continues to get comfortable running a new offense, while working on his technique. One of the biggest points of emphasis this offseason has focused on widening his base, which should help him get the ball out quicker.
“I think Matt makes it easy, and (quarterbacks coach) Pat (O’Hara) and the rest of those guys on the offensive side,” Mariota said. “They’re doing a great job of just making everybody feel comfortable, understanding that we’re all going to make mistakes, we’re all learning.
“At the same time, they’re pushing us to be as good as we can be. They’re working on our fundamentals, they’re positioning us to be successful and that’s all you can really ask for.”
LaFleur, who has worked with quarterbacks like Jared Goff, Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin III in the past, said Mariota has been putting the time in to make himself better.
Mariota began working on his base in California earlier in the offseason, and it’s continued in Nashville under the tutelage of LaFleur and O’Hara. On the practice field he’s looked quicker, minus the bulky knee brace he wore last season. He’s made strides in the pocket, with some below the waist adjustments.
Mariota and LaFleur hope it will pay off this fall.
In his first three NFL seasons, Mariota has thrown for 9,476 yards with 58 touchdowns and just 34 interceptions.
“When a guy drops back in this league, those pockets aren’t always friendly, and they close quickly,” LaFleur said. “So they’ve got to be able to get the ball out at a moment’s notice. So if they play with a base, typically they are able to get the ball out.
“He’s an extremely bright guy. He’s picked it up pretty quickly. Again, I think it’s more or less just having that confidence in being able to go out there and not think so much when he’s playing. So the more reps he’s been getting, the better he’s been doing. … I think he’s made a lot of progress. I think it’s continuing to be a work in progress.”