When the Tennessee Titans "exotic smashmouth" ultimately displayed no exotic and little smashmouth it was shown the door. Now enters a new offensive under coordinator Matt LaFleur.
"It is extremely difficult to dink and dunk all the way down the field," LaFleur said, via the team's official website. "The defenses are just too good. If you look at it, statistically the teams that are getting the chunk plays, the explosive [plays], those are the teams that are going to produce more yards, more points.
"Ultimately, the yards really don't matter. So you have to score enough points, and I have been fortunate in my career to have been around some really good play callers, starting with Gary Kubiak and then going with Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, and that was always at the forefront of our minds: How can we create explosive plays?"
While LaFleur fell into coach speak about establishing the run, creating offensive balance, each game being a different episode, yadda, yadda, yadda, there was one line that stuck out:
"We're going to try to tailor our offense to our player's ability."
The greatest weakness of the previous coaching staff was its rigidness and inability to construct a game plan that took advantage of its players' best assets. The frustration that spawned from that wrong-headed approach led to veteran players begging, pleading, and crying for quarterback Marcus Mariota to take matters into his own hands last season.
Hopefully LaFleur and the new staff are smarter than that.
Too often Mike Mularkey and his band wanted Mariota to be a humdrum conductor. Rock stars weren't made to lead orchestras.
Make no mistake: Mariota can be a rock star.
"You can see the talent he possesses," LaFleur said of Mariota. "There's really three prerequisites to playing the position. No. 1, you have to be a natural thrower. You better be fearless in the pocket, be able to stand in there. And then the last one is those intangibles. I think he possesses all of those. ... We're going to be extremely detailed with his fundamentals and his footwork, because I think that leads to more consistent quarterback play.
"I think he is a natural thrower. There will be different techniques we will implement with him, but it is more or less getting him consistent with his footwork and his mechanics, because I think that ultimately leads to better quarterback play."
LaFleur spent the past two years in the two most explosive offenses in the NFL, under two of football's the most creative playcallers (2016 with Shanahan's Falcons; 2017 with McVay's Rams). If the Titans' offense comes close to replicating those fiery schemes, Tennessee will enjoy back-to-back playoff appearances.