Marcus Mariota eyes accuracy gains via footwork

Despite the overall improvement the Tennessee Titans made last season, it was apparent that fans we're seeing something different from Marcus Mariota.

The quarterback struggled with his throwing mechanics, especially late in the season. He tallied 15 interceptions and saw his QB rating plummet from a healthy mid-90s score in 2016 to 79.3 in 2017.

So it's no surprise the former Heisman Trophy winner has been working with new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Pat O'Hara on widening his throwing stance in an effort to stabilize himself in the pocket and make more accurate throws.

"It's tough because it's hard to break old habits," Mariota told The Tennessean's Jason Wolf. "I think for a long time I've been playing with such a narrow base. If I'm able to accomplish, really, that goal of mine, to stay in a good solid base throughout, I think I can make a lot of the throws that are asked of me in this offense. As I continue to be out here, I've just got to continue to be mindful of it and find ways to just self-correct and just get better."

Although new head coach Mike Vrabel says he won't be afraid to let Mariota run, it's imperative that Mariota continue to develop into a confident and reliable pocket passer and avoid injury. With the Titans looking to Derrick Henry to provide impact in the running game, developing the Titans' air attack will rest with Mariota heading into his all-important fourth season.

"I think the ball comes out a little faster [in a wider stance]," Mariota told Wolf. "I think if I'm in a narrow base, it takes me an extra second to get to that [wider] base to be able to throw the football. If I'm in a good solid base [to begin with], I can throw at any point in time and make the throws on time."

With all the progress the Titans made in 2017, making sure Mariota returns -- and ideally, surpasses -- the numbers he achieved during his sophomore season will be among the Titans' top priorities. Vrabel and LaFleur both know that if they can improve Mariota's throwing mechanics, he has the potential to be among the NFL's elite dual-threat quarterbacks.

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