ATLANTA – On the way out of the NFL Network press availability on Wednesday, I crossed paths with Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin here at Super Bowl LIII.
So I tossed the former Cowboys receiver a question about Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Irvin ended up bringing Titans receiver Corey Davis and running back Derrick Henry into the conversation.
"This year was difficult, because of the injuries and everything, but I thought sometimes, even in these times, you get a greater understanding of how great a player can be," Irvin said of Mariota. "He garnered such respect when people see him fight through what he fought through this year with the injury -- the elbow injury, the nerves and all of those things. But he still showed up and played and played hard.
"The sky is the limit for Mariota. I really (think so)."
In 2018, Mariota played in 14 of the team's 16 games, with 13 starts. A lingering nerve injury, which he initially suffered in Week 1, hampered his play throughout a season when he threw for 2,528 yards, with a franchise record 68.9 percent completion percentage. Mariota also threw just 11 touchdowns, the fewest of his career.
Second-year receiver Corey Davis turned out to be Mariota's top target.
"And now that Corey Davis is coming around – he is finally starting to come around," Irvin said of Davis, who caught 65 passes for 891 yards and four touchdowns in his second NFL season. "It took him a little while, but he is finally starting to come around."
Davis caught a pair of game-winning catches in 2018.
"I watched a couple of games, and (Marcus) was looking for Davis late in the game to make those plays," Irvin said. "Now they have to keep building on that relationship. They have a good running back in Derrick Henry. Just keep building that relationship between (Mariota) and Corey Davis."
Henry finished the year with 1,059 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Mariota, Davis and Henry all performed well in the team's Monday Night Football win against the Cowboys, after Irvin predicted a Cowboys win. Irvin thinks the Titans need to rely on all three heading into 2019.
"In this business, you want to be balanced," Irvin said. "In this business, we like to think run 50 percent of the time, pass 50 percent of the time. I don't mean that.
"What I mean by balanced is you want to be able to beat somebody running the ball, and beat them throwing the ball. So you let them pick their poison, but understand they must die. Beat them by land, and by air."
Titans Online looks back at QB Marcus Mariota's 2018 season. (AP Photos)
Titans Online looks back at WR Corey Davis' 2018 season, in which led the team with 65 receptions for 891 yards and four touchdowns. (Donn Jones Photography)