Comfort, aggression at center of Matt LaFleur's plan for Marcus Mariota

"Communication is going to be absolutely critical to all of our success here," new coordinator Matt LaFleur said of making the Titans' offense work. Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans' offense will look quite different under offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, and it will start with how quarterback Marcus Mariota is used within the scheme.

LaFleur's early vision for Mariota should excite Titans fans, as it can be summed up with two words: comfort and aggression. LaFleur's biggest challenge might be getting Mariota to be expressive on how he wants the Titans offense to be run as he heads into this fourth NFL season.

"Our communication is going to be absolutely critical to all of our success here," said LaFleur, who left his job as Rams offensive coordinator to join the Titans last week. "I reiterated with him the importance of -- if there's something you don't feel comfortable doing, I want you tell me. I know it's kind of against his nature because he's such a good person. I just don't want him to hold back on anything."

"We're going to try to tailor our offense to our player's ability."

For Mariota, that should include heavy dose of play-action, where he was one of the best in the NFL last season. Mariota also excelled when running tempo offense and at being able to use read-option or run-pass option plays where his legs become a tantalizing weapon.

But Mariota also has the insight to reveal what needs to be implemented for him to feel comfortable and be able to take that next step as a QB. LaFleur said many young quarterbacks are reluctant in this regard, but he noted that Rams quarterback Jared Goff was able to overcome his natural deference so that by the end of the season, "he had no reservations, he'd tell us exactly what he liked and he didn't like."

Maximizing Mariota is the primary focus of Tennessee's offseason. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has entrusted LaFleur, a first-time playcaller who has a long history of success with quarterbacks, with the responsibility to get that out of Mariota.

LaFleur did his own research, talking to those in the NFL community who were familiar with Mariota, as well as having some limited conversation with the Titans' 24-year-old signal-caller. He was blown away most by Mariota's character and how coachable he's perceived to be.

"You can see the talent that he possesses," LaFleur said. "There are three prerequisites to playing the [QB] position: You have to be a natural thrower, you better be fearless in the pocket, be able to stand in there. He has all three."

LaFleur pointed to the Super Bowl as a perfect example of why offensive aggression is important. He plans to call plays always looking for the home run, something that was often missing from the Titans' 2017 offense.

One of the best parts of the Rams' offense were how it used tight receiver splits, bunch formations and play-action to get receivers open for mismatches. Those typically lead to explosive plays.

"It’s extremely difficult to dink and dunk all the way down the field. Defenses are just too good," LaFleur said. "Statistically, the teams are getting the chunk plays -- the explosives -- are the teams that are going produce more yards and more points."

LaFleur won't able to get hands-on with Mariota and the Tennessee offense until April 2, but he already has plans to be "extremely detailed" in improving Mariota's fundamentals and footwork. The thought is that improving those two areas will lead to more consistent quarterback play.

What comes out of the Mariota-LaFleur pairing will certainly be one of the top Titans offseason stories to follow.