The 2017 season wasn’t the step forward for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota that the team may have been hoping to see, but he came up with a good performance when the team needed it most in Week 17.
Mariota led the team to a 15-10 win over the Jaguars that booked them a spot in the playoffs and did it with the help of a season-high 60 rushing yards, including a handful of key runs while the team was running out the clock in the fourth quarter. Tight end Delanie Walker would like to see more of that from Mariota against the Chiefs on Saturday, even if it means ignoring what the team’s coaches might have wanted on a particular play.
Walker noted that plays are drawn with straight lines and that defenses don’t let players run in straight lines, so it is up to players to “figure out how to make that line straight without running it straight.”
“Sometimes you’ve got to play backyard football,” Walker said, via the Tennessean. “Sometimes you’ve got to overcome coaching. And I think that’s what makes some players great, when they know how to do that. … Marcus, basically, a play was broken. He made a play on his own. He didn’t find nobody else, so he took off running, and that’s basically what he did.”
“Overcome coaching” doesn’t sound like the sort of advice that coaches would love to hear, but Mike Mularkey didn’t quarrel with it. He said the team is “at that point right now when every man needs to do whatever he can” to get a win and that he thinks Mariota’s Week 17 game gave the quarterback more confidence about his ability to do that. A repeat on Saturday could give the Titans an opportunity to continue their season a little longer.