The bad miscommunication and misfire between Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis in Saturday's 16-6 loss to Pittsburgh seemed to set a bad tone for the rest of the game for the Tennessee Titans.
Davis was open and appeared to have a chance for a big play from a blown Steelers coverage, but Mariota delivered the football short of the mark, leading to an incomplete pass and a punt. Afterward the game, both players took blame for the incompletion.
But on Sunday, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the buck stops with him, and that he has to make sure both players are on the same page if such an instance occurs again.
“We're gonna go through a lot of these this year. There's gonna be a lot of, 'Well, I should have been here and Corey's gonna take blame and Marcus (will).' But everything falls on me. That's it. I've got to make sure that Marcus understands where Corey's gonna be. If you're uncovered, here's where we're gonna be," Vrabel said. "And the most important thing is that Marcus and Corey are on the same page. To this point, I haven't done a good enough job making sure both of those guys know where each other are going to be on every single route.
"I'll make sure that happens, because the guy throwing the ball and the guy catching the ball, those are the only two really at that point in time that matter.”
Mariota suffered through a rough game on Saturday while he was in at quarterback for four series, going 5 of 8 for 43 yards, and suffering an interception on his final play of the day.
Davis, who has been held out some days to rest his hamstrings in camp, had played sparingly in the preseason before Saturday. He did not play in the preseason opener vs. the Packers and was targeted just once against Tampa Bay. Davis does not have a catch in preseason.
Vrabel said both players are vital components to the Titans offense and he has to make sure their communication is right.
“We're gonna rely heavily on both those players this year. We have to make sure that happens sooner rather than later. I've seen Corey and Marcus hook up on a lot of passes so far since April, where there's a lot of tight coverage,” Vrabel said. “Marcus trusts him, because he knows where he's gonna be. It's unfortunate that when they don't cover him, there's some uncertainty. So it's my job to make sure that both guys know that under any circumstances, in this situation, if they don't cover you, this is where they want you to be, and it's important that Corey and Marcus are on the same page.”
When asked if Mariota fully trusts himself yet in Matt LaFleur's new offense, Vrabel said that all players have to trust what they see and execute.
“I think every professional athlete or any athlete at any age, there's got to be some self-confidence involved for you to do your job. Regardless of what happens, I'm gonna do this, and you've got to go make a play,” Vrabel said. “You've got to take the coaching through the week, take all the tips, the film study and you have to combine all into a matter of about two seconds, to make a good decision, to know when to be aggressive, when to take a chance and when not to take a chance.
"That all happens in relatively quick time. We're going to ask all of our guys to be able to know what to do and play fast and aggressive. Be aggressive, but not be reckless and not jeopardize the team.”