Many football observers were left underwhelmed when the Titans ended a muted coaching search by removing the interim tag from Mike Mularkey.
That's not Mularkey's problem, of course. His job is to wake the Titans from the doldrums after finishes of 2-14 and 3-13 in the past two years. On Thursday, Mularkey gave a bit of insight into the type of offense he wants to run with Marcus Mariota behind center.
Mularkey: Says his old offensive system in Pitt, which he hopes to replicate, was known as "exotic smashmouth."â John Glennon (@glennonsports) February 18, 2016
Mularkey was the offensive coordinator with the Steelers from 2001-03. During that period, Pittsburgh leaned hard on lead back Jerome Bettis, but also showed flashes of unpredictability with the trio of Kordell Stewart, Antwaan Randle El and Hines Ward. The unit finished in the top 10 in offense in two of three years.
That said, a cynic can understandably label "exotic smashmouth" as exactly the type of coachspeak nonsense a Mike Mularkey-type is known to bust out with a straight face in mid-February.
Mularkey added that the Titans have plans to use Mariota as a runner more often, though the team will be mindful of exposing its young franchise passer to injury. Mularkey alluded to having extra blockers on the field for Mariota-designed run plays.
Mariota came into the NFL known for his playmaking abilities with his legs while with Oregon, but he did very little scrambling in a rookie year hampered by knee issues.
Mariota was credited with just 34 rushes under Mularkey and Ken Whisenhunt in 2014. By comparison, Stewart carried the ball 96 times for 537 yards and five touchdowns during the 2001 season. We imagine the Titans would love to see what Mariota could do with that type of workload, but it's unclear at this point if Mariota's body could handle it.
But back to the serious stuff: Claim "Exotic Smashmouth" as your fantasy team name before your buddy does it first.