NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota passed his first test, performing even better than expectations during his rookie season.
Now, Titans coach Mike Mularkey and offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie will be put to the test. Their challenge is to put the Titans quarterback in a position to take advantage of his strengths in year two, and moving forward.
At least that's the opinion of Phil Simms, a former NFL quarterback with the Giants who's now an analyst with CBS.
"I am real interested in seeing what kind of offense they design, and what they do,'' Simms said from Super Bowl 50. "I know this: Cam Newton has an offense that's designed specifically for Cam Newton in Carolina. It's perfect. When Cam Newton goes to bed at night, he has to think, "Is this a dream? Alex Smith is playing in Kansas City, and he goes to bed at night and he can't believe his dreams come true, too. Tom Brady has it with the Patriots, too.
"You have to design an offense that fits him. If he's going to be the guy, there's the pressure. So Robiskie has a lot on his shoulders, and Mike Mularkey, too. They have to come up with that perfect offense, and they have to support him."
TitansOnline.com looks back at the 2015 rookie season of Titans QB Marcus Mariota. (AP Photos)
Mariota broke rookie records for most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370) in his first NFL season. Mariota completed three or more touchdown passes on four different occasions during his rookie season. He joined Peyton Manning (four in 1998) as the only rookie to accomplish the feat.
Mularkey hired Robiskie, formerly receivers coach with the Falcons but with eight years of experience as an offensive coordinator in the NFL with the Browns and Raiders, as the team's new play-caller. A year ago, Jason Michael served as the team's offensive coordinator, and he called plays. He's now the team's quarterbacks coach.
"What is the offense going to look like? I'm not sure,'' Simms said of the Titans. "I was pretty impressed with Marcus the person, and he threw the ball well. But what is that offense of his going to look like? That's interesting. I would think a combination of somewhere between Kansas City's and Carolina's, somewhere in there.
"The element of Marcus running has to be part of it, and I don't mean designed runs. He's got to learn to be a very mobile guy, drop back and if it's not there, let's go, that's the NFL. It's about moving to be productive, and moving to throw. That is a huge part of making an offense dangerous now."
During his rookie season, Mariota ran for 252 yards and two touchdowns on 34 attempts, including an 87-yard run for a touchdown against the Jaguars. He had three runs of 20-plus yards. Simms witnessed a 23-yard touchdown run by Mariota against the Jaguars while working the Thursday night game in Jacksonville.
As a whole, Simms thought Mariota performed even better than he thought he would as a rookie. The key now is to keep improving, he said.
"I think the year went really well for him. Rookie quarterback on a team that's not an upper echelon team, he did a lot of good things,'' Simms said. "I think the fact he stood in there, I thought that was really good. That was better than I expected. I thought he would run more to be honest.
"Now, he just has to keep working, on his skill. He is going to be in great shape, but he needs to take another step throwing the football. He has to be able to make four or five of those exceptional throws a game, and however he finds a way to it, he needs to be able to hit those next year."