It’s a good thing Marcus Mariota is a fast learner.
This week, Mariota and his Tennesseee Titans teammates were on the field for a voluntary veteran mini-camp, their first under new head coach Mike Vrabel.
For Mariota, who is entering his fourth NFL season, he will also be working now under his third head coach and fourth play-caller with Vrabel and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.
“It’s a process. It takes some time,” Mariota said of learning the new offense. “Everybody is doing their best to learn the playbook, learn about each other. It takes time and I think a lot of the guys would probably say the same thing. As we go through this process, if we continue to learn more about each other, we continue to communicate, all the stuff on the field will take care of itself.”
Mariota also admitted that while stability is good, the fact that he has been through such changes before is beneficial.
“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,” Mariota said.
Vrabel said he knows that the process will take some time for Mariota and the players to learn the new schemes.
“Well, I think just with day one, he’s trying to concentrate on getting the play call, the new verbiage. I think that’s what you deal with as it relates to a new system. ‘We ran this play, but we called it this.’ That happens a lot,” Vrabel said. “I know defensively, they look at those things and say, ‘Yeah, we ran this, it’s just we called it this.’ Then you have to try to train them to understand the new language and the verbiage. I think there’s also a give and take where, ‘OK, if everybody is familiar with that, well then we’ll make it that or we’ll call it that.’ I think that’s where you try to blend the different systems.”
New offense or not, Mariota is just happy to be back on the field for off-season work, after having to rehab from fibula surgery last year.
“It’s awesome to be back out there, it’s awesome to play ball. It’s fun to go out there, see some new faces, but just to go out there and compete, it’s a blast,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy to think about where I was last season at this time, and now here I am today. Being able to run out there and compete, and practice with these guys, it’s night and day and I’m just excited to be out there with the guys.”
Mariota also said he is working to widen his base on his throws, something he made a cognizant effort to do during some off-season work in Los Angeles, and it is an old habit he has to break, he said.
“I tend to get real narrow, and I think a lot of times that was, for me, trying to get out and run out of the pocket. If I have a good, solid base, I feel that I can throw from really any platform. That’s something that I really focused on during the offseason,” Mariota said. “That’s something that I’ve been doing since I was a kid. But at the same time, if I can find any way to make me better I’m going to do it, and do it to the best of my abilities.”