Cosell Film Study: Marcus Mariota

By Greg Cosell

Greg Cosell is is an NFL analyst and a senior producer at NFL Films. He has spent extensive time evaluating film throughout the offseason on every team across the league, including the Tennessee Titans. Some of his notes on Marcus Mariota are below. Watch Greg on ESPN NFL Matchup this fall, and follow him on Twitter — @GregCosell. 



  • Multiple hi-low concepts and 3 man route concepts (with flat-curl element) to both the field and the boundary, Mesh concept with wheel and sit route


  • Titans did a good job with their route concepts and combinations attacking both man and zone coverage, They had man beater concepts
    and zone beater concepts within the same route concepts


  • Titans featured minus splits in both 3×1 and 2×2 sets – That was the McVay influence on OC LaFleur re: reduced/condensed formations


  • Zone read part of 3rd and short package, Strength of Mariota’s game


  • Motion and shifts across the formation part of Titans 3rd down packages, Man-zone indicator in addition to creating 3 man bunch at


  • Mariota showed a tendency to break down at flashes of color, There were times he would re-set and make quality throws and other times he did not get on balance and rushed throws negatively impacting his accuracy


  • Too many snaps in which Mariota played a little fast in the pocket, perceiving pressure and rushing himself


  • Wheel routes were featured on 3 rd down, often coming from the slot in 2×2 and 3×1 sets


  • Foundation formation out of 11 personnel: 3×1 with boundary x iso (both minus and plus splits) and tight bunch to the field (often the bunch came off shift from initial 2×2 set), Natural rub elements out of tight bunch


  • Titans also featured shift from 3×1 tight bunch to 2×2 with minus splits on each side of the formation


  • Titans did not feature much empty of 3 rd down, although they used more of it as the season progressed – Empty out of 11 personnel often featured TE and back to the boundary and 3 WR trips to the field


  • Mariota must become more consistently precise with his ball placement – One remaining concern is lack of synch between his upper body and lower body, Did not consistently throw with a firm base as a result of not planting his back foot and transferring his weight, Did not throw with much core torque


  •  Mariota is not a natural aggressive turn-it-loose thrower, He’s a somewhat programmed schemed passer – One result is that he’s not a strong late-in-the-down pocket passer, another is he leaves some throws on the filed by not turning it loose


  • As the season progressed Titans more 1×3 sets out of 11 personnel, Firkser (and also Smith) was used as the boundary x TE out of multiple splits


  • Mariota almost always worked to the trips side in 3×1 sets, He did not look to the boundary x – Can Davis become that receiver in 2019?


  • Titans did a good job working levels to the trips side with hi-low concepts, They also featured horizontal concepts to stretch zones


  • Mariota is more of a see-it/throw-it passer than a true anticipation thrower, He’s more of a pre-determination thrower based on route concepts and reading progression


  • There were times Mariota made some outstanding throws into tight windows, He must become more consistent turning it loose versus tight coverage


  • Mariota showed a tendency to be a beat slow with his elimination and isolation, with the result being too many throws left on the field


  • Mariota must continue to improve his pre-snap recognition of fronts re: protection to develop a better understanding of pressure and where he’s exposed with free rushers


  • 3 man bunch and 2 man stack featured concepts in Titans passing game, Excellent concepts to attack and break down man coverage


  • Mariota at times showed excellent pocket movement, with the added dimension of getting out of the pocket and making second reaction plays (both throws and runs)


  • Spy was clearly a tactic deployed by defenses versus Mariota on 3rd down, Particularly saw it used by division opponents


  • There were times the Titans OL struggled with stunts, especially to Conklin’s side; Conklin lacks the lateral quickness to re-direct effectively


  • Dagger was part of Titans route concepts, out of both twins and trips; They featured cross country dagger at times


  • Davis lined up as the boundary x iso receiver, and he lined up in multiple splits to the field as part of trips bunch and twins; Davis lined up in all 3 spots in trips bunch


  • The opponent’s best corner almost always matched up to Davis in cover 1 and 2 man


  • The more 3rd down plays I watched the more I questioned at times Mariota’s elimination/isolation traits and his field vision


  • Shifts, especially across the formation, continued to be a featured tactic in Titans 3rd down offense


  • One area Mariota must improve is working back side to the boundary x off his initial front side trips read, Mariota tendency to stay too long on the trips side and lose the back side in-breakers




  • Reduced/condensed formations with minus WR splits out of 11 personnel


  • Play action with Mariota under center out of 12 personnel, Titans also dash and boot play action with Mariota under center


  • Multiple pass game concepts re: Mariota drops and routes out of play action, both under center and in the shotgun


  •  7 stop from minus splits part of Titans route concepts on all downs but they used on 1st down off play action


  • You could see the Rams influence in the 1st down passing game with under center play action and minus splits being a foundation


  • Straight I formation part of Titans 1st down play action pass game, predominantly with iso lead action; They deployed it out of balanced minus splits and twins to the field/closed to the boundary, at times out of twins they ran cross country dagger


  • Shifts across the formation, predominantly with WR, part of 1st down passing game


  • Titans showed an effective screen game off WR motion across the formation and zone run action, Misdirection element


  • Lewis effective in the screen game, both the conventional screen game out of the backfield and the tunnel screen game


  • Titans snaps with Mariota in the shotgun flanked by Henry and Lewis, play action with 3 man vertical route concept


  • Titans featured split flow zone action in the backfield with Mariota in the shotgun, predominantly out of 12 personnel


  • Davis featured on in-breaking routes, especially out of twins to the field; Dagger part of Titans pass game


  • Pistol formation out of 12 personnel with twins to the field/closed to the boundary, Zone read dimension to the boundary


  • Full slide 6 and 7 man protection concepts with Mariota in the shotgun part of Titans 1st and 2nd down passing game, at times with 2 man
    route concepts and a late check down


  • 2 back sets (one was almost always a TE) with Mariota both under center and in the shotgun significant part of 1st down pass game


  • Firkser became a meaningful part of Titans passing game as the season progressed, An athletic TE who could work the middle of the
    field effectively


  • Mariota made some excellent firm touch throws with precise ball placement at the intermediate levels both between the numbers and outside the numbers, Mariota made those throws predominantly versus zone coverage


  • Titans had some strong concepts in the intermediate pass game, plus they featured a multiple screen game that was very effective, particularly with Lewis


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