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Packers-Titans Q&A: 'Exotic-smashmouth' football working in Tennessee

Jimmy Morris of SB Nation's Tennessee Titans blog Music City Miracles answers our questions about "exotic-smashmouth" football, Marcus Mariota's progress, and what he expects from Packers vs. Colts.

Tennessee Titans v San Diego Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers start a three-game road trip against the Tennessee Titans. Jimmy Morris of Music City Miracles was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the Titans and provide insight into their strengths and weaknesses.

APC: The Titans characterized their offense as "exotic-smashmouth" football heading into the season. With half the games now played, what has that come to mean?

It means that they want to run a smashmouth offense that features a few wrinkles. The wrinkles can be anything to RPO plays, read option plays, and traditional option plays. Marcus Mariota is a guy that can really put stress on the defense with his legs. They don't want him to run a ton, but there are a few plays every game where he has that option. They have scored a lot of points in the last month, so the "exotic smashmouth" is working to some extent.

APC: As Marcus Mariota nears the end of his second professional season, how do you evaluate his progress? What are his strengths and weaknesses?

He has played really well at times. There is no doubt that the Titans have found their franchise quarterback. His ability to read defenses, especially in the red zone, is well ahead of where you would expect a second year quarterback to be, and as mentioned above, he has the athleticism to create with his legs when things break down.

The weakness so far has been the turnovers. He has to do a better job of taking care of the ball. The worst thing about his turnovers is that they pretty much always end up going the other way for touchdowns. That is pretty random, so shouldn't continue, but it has really hurt the Titans this season.

APC: ​The Titans remade their front office this past offseason, bringing in Jon Robinson to take over as general manager. However, the new regime retained interim head coach Mike Mularkey to guide the team on the field.​ How have both parts of the organization done thus far in 2016, and do you see that relationship extending past the end of the year?

Jon Robinson has been great. He signed a solid free agent class with guys like WR Rishard Matthews, C Ben Jones, and FS Rashad Johnson. All 3 of those guys have been solid. He also did really well in the draft with RT Jack Conklin, who has consistently graded out as one of the best OTs in the league, and guys like RB Derrick Henry and S Kevin Byard. He should be able to rebuild this roster with another offseason or two.

Mike Mularkey has been what we expected him to be. I didn't like the hire when it was announced. I would have to say he has been slightly better than I expected, but I still believe that a guy like Josh McDaniels would be a lot better for Mariota.

Robinson and Mularkey seems to be pretty solid. They both want to build a roster that is strong in the trenches and controls the ball on offense.

APC: If you were game planning against the Titans, how would you attack them on offense? On defense?

To stop the offense the best strategy would be to load up the box and try to take away DeMarco Murray because that is where the Titans want the offense to start. Mariota has been good but prone to turnovers. The more he drops back to throw the better the chances of the defense making a big play happen.

On offense just drop back and throw. The Titans secondary is bad. If the Packers line can give Aaron Rodgers time, he will be able to have a field day. Guys will be running free down the field.

APC: Finally, it's prediction time. Which team wins on Sunday and why?​

This game has all of the elements of a shootout. I think you have to give the Packers the edge there because of the quarterback. Give me Packers 35, Titans 30

We'd like to thank Jimmy and Music City Miracles for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there, as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Titans. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Packers vs. Titans.

Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. He covers the NFL for Sports on Earth and SB Nation. He also serves as the senior writer and editor for Acme Packing Company, a Green Bay Packers blog.