If you look at Mariota's overall rushing performance in 2015, it's not overly impressive.
31 rushes, 3.1 attempts per game, 249 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 fumbles and only 1 run of 40 yards or more.
However that doesn't really tell you the whole story about Marcus and what the Jets will be facing on Sunday. He rushed only five times over his first three games, in his first 6 games he ran just 11 times for 77 yards. He suffered an MCL injury against the Dolphins which forced him to miss two weeks. He made a comeback against the Saints but was limited to just one carry, with his knee still not 100%..
With the knee back to 100% and new Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey understanding that it would be foolish not to use a naturally talented runner like Mariota, the rookie QB is starting to use his legs more and more. He's rushed at least 5 times in 3 of the last 4 games, including a season high 9 attempts last weekend against Jacksonville.
Over the course of the last four games, Mariota has rushed 20 times for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mariota is a smart QB, he'll take what the defense give him, so if he is afforded an open lane, he'll take off, if defenses maintain containment on him, he knows he needs to win from the pocket.
"I just think the last couple weeks, the defenses have been giving me opportunities to run around a little bit," he said. "It's going to depend week to week what defenses decide on, in terms of the zone reads or maybe even scrambling."
I think the Jets need to make Mariota beat them with his arm. We spent a significant portion of our off-season salary cap upgrading the secondary. Revis may not be available, but Marcus Williams should be back. The Titans are calling a lot more designed run plays for Mariota because he is a smart player, he breaks the odd tackler here and there, but he's not about to put his head down and voluntarily take on someone like Calvin Pryor.
"He's very good at trying to avoid contact. Some of those designed runs (against the Jaguars), we got him out of the pocket with a lead player around the edge," Mularkey said. "He went through a couple (players) and ran through some tackles. That's not something I'm worried about, though. I'm just worried about a clean shot on him and I think he's smart not to take those."
Having a linebacker/safety spy on the QB on obvious passing downs is not a bad idea, and I imagine the Jets will employ this strategy on Sunday.Mixing up blitzes from different angles and locations also help. When you use a player to spy the QB, you largely give that player up in coverage. With the limited receiving weapons the Titans have at their disposal, that may not be a massive negative for the Jets.