Titans QB Marcus Mariota Aims to Spread Around the Football, Not the Blame


NASHVILLE – Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith faced the media on Tuesday, and he sacked himself.

One by one, Smith answered questions about the issues in Sunday's loss to the Colts, and each time Smith said to put the blame on him, mainly for the playcalling.

Then Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota followed him to the podium, and protected his first-year OC.

"It's definitely not (all on Arthur)," Mariota said. "It really comes down to us execution wise. We've got to do a better job. Art, we love that guy for who he is and what he means to us as a team, but he doesn't deserve all the blame. We definitely have to execute better and find ways to help him out."

A week after beating the Browns by 30 points, the Titans lost to the Colts by two points on Sunday, and fans – and reporters -- want answers as to why the offense struggled.

Mariota's numbers from the game – 19-of-28 for 154 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions – weren't awful.

But these numbers were: 1-of-10 on third down, only 242 yards of total offense, and four quarterback sacks.

In the past two games, the Titans are just 3-of-20 on third down. Through two weeks, the Titans are ranked 27th in the NFL in total offense. Mariota has been sacked eight times in two weeks.

The Titans need to get things fixed in a hurry – next up is Jacksonville, on Thursday night.

"It's early in the season," Mariota said. "There's several pieces of the puzzle that we want to get better, and obviously that's third down. Those are things that we've communicated the last couple of days, and we've got to do a better job of just executing. We have an opportunity Thursday night to do that, and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Last September, the Titans won 9-6 in Jacksonville.

A few months later, the Titans beat the Jaguars 30-9.

The Titans have won four straight games in the AFC rivalry, and six of the last seven.

Mariota said the Titans must find a way to be more successful on first and second down to jumpstart the offense.

"When you face a common opponent as much as we have here, it makes these short weeks a little easier," Mariota said. "At the same time though, it's a tough defense. Year in and year out, these guys since I've been in the league, they've been tough. We know we have a challenge in front of us. We talk about it all the time, just being good on third down, being efficient in the red zone, those are our important keys to the game."

Mariota would also like to utilize more of his weapons.

After two games, tight end Delanie Walker leads the Titans with nine catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie A.J. Brown leads the team in receiving yards (125), on six catches.

But Corey Davis (3-38), Adam Humphries (3-4) and Tajae Sharpe (2-24) have all made a minimal impact.

"No matter what, you have to play what the defense is giving you, try not to force things," Mariota said. "You don't want to turn the ball over. Our guys are unselfish. One guy's going to explode one week, and another guy will do it the following week. We just have to find ways to spread it out and let these guys do their thing."

On Thursday night, the nation will be watching.

Mariota hopes the offense will shine.

"I love playing when the lights are on," he said. "I look forward to these challenges, I look forward to these division games, and our guys I think will be ready to go. It's going to be a challenge, but we're looking forward to it."

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