Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will have a completely revamped running back group to work with as a sophomore in 2016.
The former Heisman winner saw his Titans squad trade for 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year DeMarco Murray back in March before doubling down at the running back position with another Heisman winner in former Alabama ball carrier Derrick Henry in the draft.
This is going to be mighty fine news for a Titans rushing attack that ranked 25th in the league at 92.8 yards per game last season. It also means that the team likely won’t be relying as much on Mariota’s arm moving forward.
For his part, the former No. 2 overall pick is more than okay with this as long as is translates to more wins for a team that has posted a total of five victories over the past two years.
“That’s a lot of talent (Murray and Henry) and a lot of excitement,” Mariota said, via the Daily Press. “Now it’s on our shoulders to bring that together, build a chemistry for the season, and hopefully lead to some wins. I told Coach Mike that I’ll hand the ball off 40 times a game if we win games. That’s what’s important to me, to giving us an opportunity to win. Having those two workhorses back there should help us out.”
The running back position has long been an issue for Tennessee. After seeing former Pro Bowler Chris Johnson depart the team following the 2013 season, the Titans have not had an individual running back put up as much as 600 yards on the ground.
Even in today’s pass-first NFL, that’s going to cause a ton of issues when it comes to balance on offense. That’s only magnified by the presence of a young quarterback under center.
Mariota tallied 2,818 passing yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games (all starts) as a rookie last season. He also added a mediocre 252 rushing yards, something that’s likely going to change with two solid threats to carry the ball behind him in the backfield.
This might not translate to playoff contention status for the still rebuilding Titans. Instead, it’s all about putting Mariota in the best position to succeed.
Always seen as a mature individual, it appears the former Oregon signal caller understands this full well.