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Titans' Marcus Mariota Eager to Change with the Times


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Change has become the new normal for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.

It began as early as his rookie season, when Mariota transitioned from Oregon's high-flying, high-scoring, no-huddle offense to a more traditional NFL attack.

Only one-and-a-half years into his career, Mariota was already learning a second pro language, the result of a midseason head-coaching swap.

Fast forward to today, with Mariota now adapting to his third head coach and his fourth offensive coordinator since entering the league in 2015.

In NFL terms, Mariota is fast becoming multi-lingual.

"It's kind of part of the job," Mariota said with a shrug earlier this week, moments before signing autographs at a Titans caravan stop in Clarksville's Academy Sports.

"The last couple of years with there being some turnover, you understand how it goes and you're pretty used to the situation ... Obviously you don't want that to be the norm, but I think being able to have gone through that situation before, it's helped all of us to be ready and prepared for this new staff."

It's not only what's going on around Mariota, however, that's in the process of changing this offseason.

It's Mariota himself.

Always self-critical, Mariota was eager to improve upon his numbers from last season, when the third-year quarterback threw for 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, even while leading the Titans to their first playoff berth since 2008.

So Mariota has decided to make some adjustments, starting at the bottom – his feet – and working his way up. He didn't have the opportunity to make those kinds of changes last year, when he spent the bulk of the offseason re-habbing from leg surgery.


"I tend to get real narrow (in my stance), and I think a lot of times that was, for me, trying to get out and run out of the pocket," Mariota said. "I think if I have a good, solid base, I feel I can throw from really any platform. That's something I've really focused on during the offseason."

Did he make the decision on his own, Mariota was asked, or did it come at the suggestion of the new coaching staff?

"It was a mixture of both," Mariota said. "I think when you're able to look at the film and your coach sees the same thing, it's good. You're communicating on the same level."

Mariota knows change won't come easy, considering he has – for the most part – used the same stance and throwing motion since he was a kid. But he said that through watching film and working through new drills, he expects to see a difference.

"I think it will help me throwing the football and make everything on time and on rhythm," Mariota said. "It's kind of a mixture of (improving) the timing of the play and at the same time being able to throw at any point and time within the pocket."

Keep in mind that many of Mariota's career numbers – a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 58 to 34, a completion rate of about 62 percent and seven fourth-quarter comeback wins – are already pretty good for a young quarterback.

But it's tempting to wonder what a new-and-improved version of Mariota will look like this season when combined with some of the new-and-improved offensive schemes of offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.

While LaFleur may not have been the play-caller for the Los Angeles Rams last season, he was still the offensive coordinator, meaning LaFleur played a significant role in the spectacular makeover of quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams' offense.

LaFleur helped transform Goff into one of the league's better quarterbacks last season – 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions – after he'd struggled through a rough rookie campaign. The Rams' offense as a whole – dead last in the league in scoring in 2016 – topped the NFL in that category last year, averaging a whopping 29.9 points per contest.

"I think that says a lot about Coach LaFleur," Mariota said. "Again, it's on us as players to do our job and execute, but I think they've done a great job as a staff of implementing what they want."

Might we see some of that magic in Music City next season?

Mariota sounds eager to embrace the change.

He's already taking steps in that direction.

-- Reach John Glennon at and follow him on Twitter @glennonsports.

Titans players take the field for Wednesday's minicamp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones, Gary Glenn)

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