To run…or not to run Marcus Mariota?
That is the question facing Matt LaFleur as he enters his first season as offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.
A quarterback with Mariota’s athleticism has to be tempting to any offensive coordinator, let alone one as imaginative and new-age as LaFleur.
After all, Mariota is just the fifth quarterback in the history of the league to throw for more than 9,000 yards (9,476) and rush for more than 900 yards (913) in his first three seasons.
Mariota has been extremely effective on designed run plays throughout his young career, evidenced by several huge plays made on the ground in the regular season finale and wild-card round last season.
He is a smart, smooth, and savvy runner, and he rarely takes huge hits…opting to get out of bounds or slide 95% of the time.
On the other hand, he is yet to complete a full season without missing time with an injury, the latest of which occurred outside the pocket on a designed run play.
So how do you find that balance? Better yet…is it worth balancing at all?
With talented backs in Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis, and versatile contributors like Taywan Taylor, or even Adoree’ Jackson perhaps, it seems that all of Tennessee’s running needs should be in good hands.
In this all important season from a contractual and professional standpoint, it may be wise for Mariota to work his magic with his legs only when absolutely necessary this year.