How Marcus Mariota can help the Titans run game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Vince Young was quarterbacking the Tennessee Titans they were generally a good running team.

The threat of Young as a runner helped open things up for Chris Johnson and others.

Could Marcus Mariota have a similar effect on the Titans current crop of running backs, likely to work as a committee?

The Titans certainly hope that as they look for an improved running game.

They average 4.1 yards per carry and 90.4 yards a game a year ago, when they ultimately turned to the immobile Zach Mettenberger as their starter.

Defenses have to be prepared for Mariota to take off at any time, with a designed running play, a zone read play, a bootleg that may turn into a run or a scramble.

When a defense is working against an immobile signal-caller, it can neglect him as a run threat.

“Defenders, for instance, on the backside, they will close a little bit harder then a quarterback that doesn't run because they know the chances of him booting or naked-ing out are slimmer,” coach Ken Whisenhunt.

“What [a quarterback like Mariota] will do will cause a pause in that backside fill which will create a seam for the back to get through -- just because of him naked-ing out on a fake holding that back side.”

The Titans need to run better, and the offensive line and the backs are obviously the biggest elements to that.

But the Mariota factor could be a significant piece as well.