Marcus Mariota – Stick or Twist
The Titans are just one year away from a major decision regarding the man under center Marcus Mariota, that decision is simply whether or not he can be what they wanted him to be, a franchise quarterback. The former Heisman Trophy winner was taken #2 overall pick in the 2015 draft and was due to be the answer to all of the questions surrounding the Titans future. Four up and down years later and we find ourselves on the cusp of a contract extension.
Mariota enters the final year of his contract which pays a base salary of $20.9 million in 2019. With many of the seat QB’s in the league receiving record-breaking contact the Titans must decide to either stick or twist.
Many believe that this year Mariota has been given the right tools to run his offense. The signing of Adam Humphries and draft pick up AJ Brown see the Titans strengthen at WR, RB Derrick Henry has been a stud since last November meaning Mariota has nowhere to hide.
So how does Marcus Mariota compare to Titans QB’S from years gone by? We compare the stats that matter and the outcome is interesting. As you can see, one stat that sticks out more than the rest, Mariota has more TD’s, higher QB rating, and a higher pass completion %, but he’s done it all while been sacked almost twice as much as Young and significantly more than McNair who led the Titans to a Super Bowl. Some of these sacks come down to the fact that he holds on to the ball for too long, taking the time to go through his progression but how many are down to a sub-standard O line.
In the four years since he arrived Mariota has been frustrated by a succession of injuries, sporadic runs in the first team have hindered the offense. His injury issues apparently extended well beyond what the public knew, even if he had a handful of issues listed on the injury report, and this is where Ryan Tannehill comes in. The Titans traded for Tannehill this offseason as back up/insurance. This comes after Blaine Gabbert struggled in that pivotal game, completing just 18-of-29 passes for 165 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions.
The Titans may find themselves heading into the 2020 draft with a QB at the top of the list of priorities if Marcus Mariota doesn’t step up in 2019. The 2020 draft is stacked with strong QB’s but will they be available when the Titans are on the clock? Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jake Fromm are currently touted as the top 3 QBs with each of them expected to go in the first round.
If the Titans are in a position to pick up any of these I would hope that they would take a risk. I am predicting that Tua will go at #1 to Miami and Herbert will go early to the Bengals, I then fully expect the Titans to pick up Jake Fromm in the first round. They each have very impressive college stats and would be expected to hit the ground running.
Addressing both the quarterback and O line issues will be a priority for Mike Vrabel but one thing that is certain, Marcus Mariota only has 13 games left to prove that he deserves that extension. And with Ryan Tannehill in the house, it could be even less.
With Ryan Tannehill having proven in Miami that he can be a consistent winning QB, although maybe not able to win a game on his own, Marcus Mariota may be on borrowed time.