Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur wants to make sure Marcus Mariota is comfortable with Tennessee's new offense so he plans to call plays that best fit the quarterback.
Mariota is busy learning his latest NFL offense Adam Shaheen Jersey , but any talk about what plays the fourth-year QB prefers will have to wait at least until he knows everything LaFleur is asking him to run.
"I'm just trying to grasp everything," Mariota said Tuesday. "You don't want to be opinionated on something that you have never run. I just try to go out there and execute, and do what they're asking me to do. When we come back and we have to determine some of these things, and determine what we like and what we don't like, I'll definitely express my opinion."
That's exactly what LaFleur expects, even if he's learning that getting the polite Mariota to speak up isn't always easy.
"He's an extremely bright guy," LaFleur said. "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."
The Titans wrap up their organized team activities this week, and their mandatory minicamp next week concludes the offseason where first-time head coach Mike Vrabel and his staff have been busy teaching and installing new offensive and defensive schemes. LaFleur, the third man to interview for the Titans' head coaching job in January, joined Vrabel as his offensive coordinator for the chance at calling plays in the NFL.
LaFleur's biggest challenge is making sure the Titans put Mariota in position to take advantage of his skills. Tennessee fired coach Mike Mularkey after winning the franchise's first playoff game in 14 years because they didn't get enough out of Mariota and the offense last season despite going 9-7.
The Titans tied for 22nd in the NFL with 33 touchdowns despite tying for second with 18 TDs rushing. Only four teams threw fewer passes than Tennessee (496), and the Titans ranked 23rd averaging 199.4 yards passing per game. They also fell to 15th in the league running the ball for an average of 114.6 yards.
LaFleur joined Tennessee from the Los Angeles Rams who scored a league-high 29.9 points per game last season. What LaFleur wants from the Titans all starts with the run game and his very mobile quarterback.
"We're going to try to have a strong marriage between the run and the pass Kyle Williams Jersey , so that to a defense it might look, 'Oh, here comes another run,' and it's play-action off that run," LaFleur said.
To rev up the run game, the Titans released veteran DeMarco Murray in March and signed Dion Lewis as a free agent to join Derrick Henry. LaFleur said he looks at the running backs as 1A and 1B.
In the end, the biggest key also is the most obvious: keep Mariota healthy for a full season for the first time in his career.
"When he's healthy, this offense runs smoothly and we've got to keep him that way," Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker said.
Notes: Left tackle Taylor Lewan and wide receiver Corey Davis were not at Tuesday's session. Vrabel said he had heard from the players not in attendance. ... Linebacker Kevin Dodd, the No. 33 pick overall in 2016, has been missing in action during the three organized team activity sessions open to reporters. Vrabel said Tuesday he could end the mystery because Dodd wasn't around. The upcoming minicamp is mandatory.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets‘ already intriguing quarterback competition just got a lot more interesting.
Thanks to a poised Sam Darnold. And a sharp and healthy Teddy Bridgewater.
Josh McCown is still No. 1 on the depth chart, but the other two quarterbacks made big-time statements in the Jets’ 17-0 preseason-opening victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night.
“We’ll see how the preseason goes Jeff Heath Jersey ,” coach Todd Bowles said after the game. “I’ll make my decision when it happens. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions after one game. I’m going to take my notes and watch practice and compare with the coaches and we’ll come up with a decision. It’s a tough decision.
“We have three good players and we’re happy to have them.”
Bowles has said that the competition could last through the fourth preseason game, and he didn’t back off that when asked if that were still the case.
“Probably,” the coach said in his typically understated fashion.
While Bowles isn’t about to start making any premature proclamations, there was plenty for the Jets and their fans to get excited about.
McCown played just one series and was replaced by Bridgewater, who led New York to scores on both of his possessions. Then, Darnold jogged onto the field at MetLife Stadium to an ovation befitting a guy considered by many to be the savior of the franchise.
The No. 3 overall pick in the draft showed poise, accuracy, playmaking ability on the run and veteran-like cool in his NFL debut.
“I thought I played pretty good,” Darnold said. “I think I just put the ball where it needed to be, tried to get it in the hands of our playmakers.”
The former USC star finished 13 of 18 for 96 yards, including a touchdown pass to Charles Johnson during which he rolled right and zipped the football into the end zone to his receiver while on the run. That came after Darnold brushed off a drop and an offensive pass interference penalty — both on Johnson — leading to the score.
“Poise. Again, the poise in the pocket,” Bowles said. “Obviously Braden Smith Jersey , the touchdown throw. The scramble was very good use of his feet and accuracy, but he does that in practice all the time, so I can’t say it impressed me because we see it every day. Just his handling of game situations. There are things he can get better at, but it’s a good start for him.”
Darnold was quick to point out a negative moment, namely when he was sacked by Jonathan Celestin in the fourth quarter.
“I feel like I could’ve gotten that ball out on the shallow (route) there, but you live and you learn I guess,” he said. “So, I’m just going to watch the tape and see really what exactly happened on some of the plays, but I thought I did pretty well. I took care of the football, which was my main priority.”
The Jets are giving Darnold every opportunity to win the starting job, and the rookie appeared well on his way to doing so while working with backups against the Falcons.
New York takes on Washington next Thursday, and it remains to be seen how Bowles will split the snaps among the quarterbacks. The next step for Darnold might be playing with the starters.
Bridgewater was also impressive in his Jets debut, showing flashes of the player who was a Pro Bowl selection with the Vikings before a severe knee injury sidelined him for most of the last two years.
He looked comfortable and even took a hard shot during a play Bob Lilly Jersey , immediately bouncing up from the turf.
“It felt good getting hit again,” Bridgewater said with a smile. “You never want the quarterback getting hit, but for me, it was the final step of the process. Got hit, got right back up and it just served as a reminder that the game is still the same.”
Bridgewater capped his first series with a touchdown toss to Isaiah Crowell, and led the Jets to a field goal on his second drive.
He finished 7 of 8 for 85 yards, and looked every bit like a starting-caliber quarterback — for New York or perhaps another team as potential trade bait if Darnold continues to progress rapidly and leaves no doubt as to who should be under center when the Jets open the regular season at Detroit.
“If you’re a football fan and you enjoy the sport, it’s fun to be a part of,” McCown said. “And to get a front-row seat and more importantly to just go out and want to see them accomplish the things that we talk about in our quarterback room on a daily basis is huge and they did that and so we couldn’t be happier. I’m really excited for them and now it’s back to work.”
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