The Titans changed their head coach, their offensive coordinator, even their jerseys. Does it mean a change for the better at quarterback, too? Marcus Mariota let Fantasy owners down with just 18 total touchdowns and 215.5 passing yards per game last season. He had just three games with 20-plus Fantasy points, a pale stat compared to the nine he posted in 2016. We're hoping the new playbook installed by Matt LaFleur, a Sean McVay disciple, will help Mariota turn things around. But he'll need help from his wide receivers, who as a group totaled six touchdown receptions last fall. Bank on Mariota improving, but not necessarily to a point where he'll be a reliable weekly Fantasy passer. It does qualify him as one of several signal-callers you'll be able to find late on Draft Day, complete with a stream-worthy Week 1 matchup at Miami
Mariota opened the preseason by completing two of three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown while adding a seven-yard scramble in his lone drive of work during Thursday's 31-17 loss to Green Bay. Mariota looked sharp despite the underwhelming cast of receivers around him, completing a 38-yard pass to Nick Williams before hitting Darius Jennings for a four-yard score. Expected to have more freedom under new head coach Mike Vrabel, the fourth-year quarterback out of Oregon looks primed for a bounce-back campaign after posting a disappointing 13:15 touchdown to interception ratio last season. His ability to lead the offense down the field without top two receivers Rishard Matthews (undisclosed) or Corey Davis (undisclosed) is certainly encouraging.
Mariota expects to play in Thursday's preseason opener against the Packers, Jim Wyatt of the Titans' official site reports. Some teams hold out starters for the first week of the preseason, but the Titans unsurprisingly want Mariota to get some reps as he adjusts to a new coaching staff. It's unclear exactly who will be catching his passes Thursday, as Rishard Matthews (undisclosed) is still on the PUP list and Corey Davis (undisclosed) has also missed quite a bit of practice time.
Mariota didn't use a knee brace during the team's OTA session Tuesday, but he has yet to make a decision whether or not he will wear it during the season, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com reports. Mariota's availability isn't in question, but wearing a brace could hinder his mobility and output on the ground during the 2018 campaign. More information on that front should surface as the regular season nears, though the issue shouldn't have a large overall impact either way.
The Titans are planning to exercise their fifth-year option on Mariota's rookie contract, Jason Wolf of The Tennessean reports. The predictable and logical move will keep the 2015 No. 2 overall pick under team control through the 2019 campaign. Per the report, the 24-year-old signal caller will be in line for a base salary of $20.9 million in 2019. Mariota is coming off a 2017 season in which he threw for 3,232 yards with 13 touchdowns and 15 picks in 15 games. It was a step back from his 2016 effort, which included a 26:9 TD:INT, but there's hope that Mariota's prospects will be bolstered by the Titans' hiring of offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, who tends to rely heavily on play-action passing. Moreover, it's reasonable to expect improved production from promising wideout Corey Davis, who caught 34 passes for 375 yards in 11 games last season after being selected with the fifth overall pick last April.
Mariota's outlook for the 2018 season received a major boost following the Titans' hiring of offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, Jason Wolf of The Tennessean reports. LaFleur held the same job with the Rams this past season, but he'll now handle offensive play-calling duties with Tennessee after ceding those to head coach Sean McVay in Los Angeles. Tennessee's willingness to part with head coach Mike Mularkey and his staff after the season despite reaching the divisional round in the playoffs suggests the franchise believes getting Mariota back on track is the key to the team's future success. The 24-year-old quarterback regressed overall this past season despite an improved team context, though he led the league in passer rating (122.8) and yards per attempt (11.1) on play-action passes. It's no coincidence that LeFleur relied heavily on play-action passing in the past while tutoring Matt Ryan and Jared Goff.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|7||10/21||@Los Angeles Chargers||3||14.50|
|10||11/11||New England Patriots||30||21.53|
|13||12/02||New York Jets||26||21.00|
|15||12/16||@New York Giants||32||22.88|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||61.6||3159||19||11||304||3||272|