As soon as the Titans hired Mike Vrabel, the attention shifted to the offensive hires of a rookie head coach with a defensive background. The biggest reason Mike Mularkey was fired, after all, was his inability to maximize Marcus Mariota.
Well, Vrabel's plan to do just that apparently includes getting Mariota back in his college comfort zone. ESPN reports Sunday that Vrabel could tab Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day as Tennessee's offensive coordinator.
It makes sense on a few levels: Day, a college quarterback at New Hampshire, played there under none other than Chip Kelly, whose success coordinating the New Hampshire offense was parlayed into his shot at Oregon, where he oversaw Mariota's record-breaking career. Day was also the quarterbacks coach with the Eagles in 2015, Kelly's second season in Philadelphia.
Of course, Vrabel is a former Ohio State player and coach, and it's likely Day's hiring would come with a seal of approval from Urban Meyer.
Mariota regressed considerably in 2017, his second full season under Mularkey and third consecutive season since being selected second overall in which Mariota failed to play 16 games. But he responded favorably in the second half of a wild-card comeback in Kansas City, when Mularkey begrudgingly tapped into Mariota's strengths as a runner and in a hurry-up offense — two key ingredients in his Heisman career under Kelly at Oregon.
Prior to his season coaching quarterbacks in Philadelphia — his first NFL gig — Day was the offensive coordinator at Boston College and Temple. But he has just two years of NFL coaching under his belt — he followed Kelly to the Niners in 2016 to coach Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert — so this would be another relatively green hire for the Titans, who named Vrabel head coach after just one season as an NFL coordinator and three years as an NFL position coach.
But Jon Robinson, much like the Bears in Chicago with Matt Nagy replacing John Fox, covet fresh ideas for a dynamic young passer. And like Nagy, who hired former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as his offensive coordinator, Vrabel is clearly interested in making an offense dubbed by Mularkey as "exotic smashmouth" something that's actually exotic and breaks from the NFL norm.