Author- Bryan Trulen
Mike Mularkey may be one of the more underrated offensive designers and play callers in the league. Mularkey has a history of success in developing quarterbacks and utilizing his Tight Ends in a highly creative fashion. Lets take a look a look at the Titans 2nd play of the game against the Jaguars as we go inside the design. (All screen shots courtesy of NFL Game Pass)
Tennessee comes out in TE dominated version of “Base” personnel. Their X Receiver is in a Tight Split and the strong side of the formation is condensed “trips” which forces the Jaguars to play an 8 man box with a single high safety.
With the Jaguars only rushing four this is an ideal situation for a drop back pass. Mariota turns and sells play action to Demarco Murray, which does just enough to influence the Jaguar linebacking corps to at least think about a run possibility.
Mariota quickly gets his head around after selling play action as the Jaguars remain true to their pre snap coverage look playing cover 3 zone.
As the play develops the Tennessee receiving threats are really pushing vertical down the field in a hurry. This is made possible by the tight alignment which allows the receivers to press the cushion of the defensive backs in true straight line fashion. Mariota has ample time to survey and with Demarco Murray releasing into the flat puts extra stress on the SS who is forced to cover him.
We can now clearly see the Mularkey play design coming to fruition as Mariota releases the ball into a defined window that was created by stretching the defense both horizontally and vertically. The (X) WR runs a deep 30 yard corner route which essentially opens the window for the “Over” route ran by Delanie Walker underneath at 20 yards. Demarco Murray is the last piece of the puzzle as he continues on his route trajectory to the sideline at 5 yards maximizing even further the window for Mariota to throw the football into.
The pass is complete to Walker for a chunk play on 2nd and long and proved to be the first of many explosive plays in the passing game for Tennessee, many of which came out of “Base” personnel packages.