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Titans QB Marcus Mariota Talks Changes, and Future

Posted Feb 2, 2018

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is in Minnesota, making the rounds on Radio Row at Super Bowl LII. Early this morning he talked to Titans Online about the offseason changes, head coach Mike Vrabel and OC Matt LaFleur, and what’s ahead.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – As Marcus Mariota made his way to Radio Row early this morning, the temperature outside was minus-8.

But the Titans quarterback ditched his coat before heading into Mall of America. A vocal workout was set to begin, as well as a physical one, as he prepared to make the rounds here at Super Bowl LII.

Mariota talked with Titans Online at 5:40 a.m. about what everyone wanted to know, from the coaching change to his new offensive coordinator to what’s ahead in 2018.

“I have had a few conversations, and I got to meet him when I was in Nashville,” Mariota said of new head coach Mike Vrabel, hired last month to replace Mike Mularkey. “I’m just very excited. His vision, the direction he wants to take the team, it is one that I am very excited to be a part of. It is going to be a lot of fun. I think he is a very competitive guy. He just loves to win games and put us in the best position possible and I look forward to getting to work and I can’t wait to get started.”

Mariota said he’s also looking forward to working with new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, who joined the Titans after spending one year as the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, who ranked first in the NFL in scoring and 10th in total offense in 2017.

In his first season with the Rams, LaFleur was instrumental in the development of quarterback Jared Goff, who threw for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns in 2017 en route to reaching the Pro Bowl. LaFleur has also worked with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, and helped Robert Griffin III during his days with the Redskins. He’s expected to help Mariota take a bigger leap in 2018.

“I got to meet and talk to him a little bit when we were in Nashville, and I think he has some great ideas,” Mariota said of LaFleur. “We weren’t allowed to talk a whole lot about football (because of NFL restrictions). But I think he has a fresh mindset, and I know they are going to do their best to put players in the best position possible. And for me, that’s all you can ask for and we just have to go out there and execute.”

Drafted second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, Mariota will play for his third NFL head coach in 2018. On Friday morning, he said he has faith in Titans general manager Jon Robinson, and his vision.

He knows he has his best interest in mind.

“Since Jon has taken over, he has made a bunch of great decisions,” Mariota said. “I trust the guy, and he is going to put our team first. Jon has done a great job, and he always seems to put the team and the players in a position to be successful. I really believe in his decision and I think he made a great one.

“As a player, to be honest, you just have to take it one day at a time. It is a business, and you can’t take things personal. I trust every one of those guys in the building and know they have me and everyone else’s best interest in mind and we just have to go out there and win games.”

Mariota, in town promoting SPAM, said he’s had time in recent weeks to reflect on the 2017 season, and said he’s optimistic moving forward.

The Titans went 9-7 in 2017, and the franchise won their first playoff game since the 2003 season with a win at Kansas City. But a loss to the Patriots the next week ended the team’s season, and has Mariota in the Super Bowl city making the rounds on Radio Row instead of playing in the big game.

The Patriots face the Eagles in Super Bowl LII on Sunday.

“It is fun to be here and experience all of this and be a part of it,” Mariota said. “To be in the divisional round a couple of weeks ago, and seeing the team we played, that beat us, be in the Super Bowl, it is pretty tough. It leaves kind of a sour taste in your mouth.

“I will enjoy the experience (this week), but won’t stick around for the game.”

Mariota believes the Titans are close to a Super Bowl trip. The Titans have won nine games in back-to-back seasons.

“That’s what we work hard for, and there’s a lot of things that have to go your way,” he said. “But for the most part this team has the talent and the players to do it and it’s just a matter of putting it all together.

“I think it was a step in the right direction (last year). Our team is still young and to get playoff appearance, and get that first playoff win under our belt was huge. That experience was invaluable, and being able to build off of that with the core group we have. ... I can’t wait to get back to work and go chase another one.”

Mariota’s numbers dipped in 2017 in his second full season under Mularkey and offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie. After throwing for 3,426 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2016, Mariota threw for 3,232 yards with 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2017.

While he guided the Titans into the playoffs, his passer rating dipped from 95.6 to 79.3. Mariota’s passer rating as a rookie was 91.5, when he threw for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns in 12 starts.

Being able to concentrate on football this offseason, instead of rehabbing an injury like last season, should be beneficial, Mariota said.

He’s looking forward to working with his new coaches, and he wants to be better in 2018.

“I am just going into a regular offseason, which is nice. The fact that I have an opportunity to just work is great,” Mariota said. “I still have to do certain things to take care of my body, and I have to make sure from a health standpoint I play all 16 games and give us an opportunity (in) every single game. It is a focal point of what I am going to do in the offseason and at the same time I need to do some football stuff.

“But I am excited about it, and I am excited about the future.”