May 30, 2020

Camp questions Titans must answer: Marcus Mariota’s future

Camp questions Titans must answer: Marcus Mariota’s future

One of the biggest questions as the Tennessee Titans head into training camp, of course, is the fate of quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Mariota’s situation is simple – he has to perform satisfactorily enough to earn himself a contract extension or to be franchised in 2020, or else the Titans will be turning the page on their starting quarterback after five years and must look elsewhere to find a solution.
Mariota’s situation is much like his draftmate, Jameis Winston, in Tampa Bay. Both quarterbacks have shown enough flashes that the front office and coaching staff believe they can become franchise type quarterbacks. But neither has shown it consistently enough yet to merit a long-term investment.
With Mariota, much of the problem hinges on two things – 1, Mariota’s injury history that has reared its head at various inopportune times; and 2, the continued in-flux situation with the offensive systems and offensive coordinators that have tutored him.
The facts are basically this with Mariota: He has not been the same quarterback since suffering a broken fibula on Christmas Eve against Jacksonville in the 2016 season. Before that injury, it surely looked like that the former Oregon Duck Heisman Trophy winner was on his way to being a superstar in the NFL, playing on some not-so-great Titans teams.
If you look at Mariota’s numbers before that injury – his first two NFL seasons – he had 45 touchdown passes to just 19 interceptions and threw for 6,244 yards. He completed 506 of 821 passes and put up a passer rating of 93.8 and a yards per attempt of 7.6.
For the past two seasons, Mariota’s numbers have dipped in several areas. He has thrown 24 TD passes (He had 26 in 2016 alone) and his interceptions have climbed to 23. Mariota completed 509 of 784 throws for 5,760 yards, slightly increasing his completion percentage to 64.9 percent over that span, but his yards per attempt dripped to 7.3. His passer rating in that span was 84.8 – not a bad number, but certainly much more average in today’s pass-happy NFL than the remarkable numbers of his first two seasons.
Injuries have been a big culprit. There was the lack of an off-season in 2017 while coming back from the leg injury. And last year there were multiple injuries from the get-go, plus the loss of tight end Delanie Walker in the season opener that took away his most reliable pass-receiving weapon.
As Mariota heads into this camp, his career is definitely at a crossroads. On the one hand, he has made enough amazing plays to show his potential as a playmaker and a game-changer. On the other hand, the injuries, the lack of continuity in the offensive schemes and the lack of playmakers have all worked against him.
It means there is no bigger question on the Titans roster entering training camp that what the Titans should expect from Marcus Mariota.

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