Titans of coach-speak: exotic smashmouth leads the way

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Liz Loza
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) scrambles away from Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
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Now that the confetti has settled and the Lombardi Trophy has been hoisted, it’s time to start speculating about the season ahead. The pontification of pigskin kicked off this week at the NFL scouting combine. Holding court in press conferences, coaches and GMs answered questions with a mixture of earnestness and cliché.

Lest we forget the steak dinner that Dennis Hickey treated Mike Wallace to in early 2015, or the praise that Jay Gruden heaped on RG3 this time last year, we must note the fluidity of these situations. Still, it’s fun to glean what a franchise might have in store for its future. And a few personnel clues could help fantasy owners begin to assign value to players.

The most hashtagged phrase to come out of these meetings has been Mike Mularkey’s “exotic smashmouth.” Used by the Titans head coach to explain his ideal offensive design, the parlance refers to a keep-them-guessing physical style of play that Mularkey was introduced to while in Pittsburgh.

While the comment has elicited infinite eyerolls, GM Jon Robinson’s similar remarks about wanting to play “downhill” and aggressively run the ball reveal quite a bit. Tennessee’s backfield is a morass of “meh.” Devoid of a proven power runner, it sounds like the Titans might try to shore up the position via the draft or free agency.

Whether David Cobb emerges, or Chris Ivory is added as a free agent, the team’s RB1 seems in store for a hefty workload. That becomes all the more enticing when taking into consideration Mularkey’s admitted desire to exploit QB Marcus Mariota’s mobility. A signal-caller unloosed has consistently opened running lanes for RBs, which makes the Titans backfield one to watch.

Other significant sound bites…

AZ: Bruce Arians, praised RB David Johnson, stating the Northern Iowa product could be one of the “all-time best” players at the position. Meanwhile, GM Steve Keim admitted Andre Ellington’s durability issues have disappointed the organization. Johnson has top-five fantasy potential in 2016, even if the team decides to bring back 30-year-old Chris Johnson.

CLE: Sashi Brown hinted that troubled WR Josh Gordon is likely return to the Browns in 2016. Under the tutelage of Hue Jackson – who has a reputation for being beloved by his players – Gordon could finally reach his full potential. According to early consensus rankings, Gordon is already in WR3 territory.

TB: Dirk Koetter talked up RB2 Charles Sims and said the backup could lead the Bucs’ backfield if “need be.” With reports out of Tampa Bay suggesting that Doug Martin may not return to Western Florida, Sims fantasy stock could spike. If Martin were to go elsewhere, I’d stay far away from him come draft day. After all, Koetter was the one who saved and revived the Muscle Hamster’s career.

Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF