Mariota’s injury revelation raises even more questions

Mariota’s injury revelation raises even more questions

With the way Marcus Mariota played in 2018, we kind of had an inkling that the Titans quarterback was injured much worse than what we actually knew.
After he missed the season finale against the Indianapolis Colts, a loss that kept Tennessee from the postseason, I asked Mariota on locker clean-out day if he there was any fractures involved with his neck injury that was causing stingers. The quarterback’s reply was, “I don’t need to get into all that.”
That was basically a dead giveaway that something much more was afoot than just a mere stinger.
So when Paul Kuharsky reported this week that Mariota’s injuries were much more involved than what had been revealed, it cleared up much of the mystery that surrounded just how injured the Titans QB really was last season.
According to the report, Mariota had a fractured vertebrae in his neck, but also a plantar fascia tear in his foot, a broken rib, strained oblique, a hand injury and strained AC joint in his shoulder along the way.
With that now out there, it does change the perspective after the rush to judgment to question Mariota’s toughness because he did not play in the season finale. And while I understand that the Titans wanted to keep the Colts guessing throughout the week regarding whether they would see Mariota or Blaine Gabbert in a game with postseason implications, the Titans’ lack of revelation on the depth of Mariota’s injuries after the fact certainly didn’t do their quarterback’s image any favors in the short run.
So on that front, the report exonerates any thoughts that Mariota wasn’t tough enough or dedicated enough. And for anyone who has been around Mariota for any length of time, they know that he would be out there in a wheelchair playing quarterback if he thought he could be effective and help the team.
With so many injuries he had to play through, it does explain the statistical dip that Mariota took in 2018. He had just 11 touchdown passes in 14 games played. He also had a career lows in number of passing attempts (331, the next lowest was 370 in 12 games his rookie season), completions (228), passing yards (2,528) and yards per completion (11.1). He was also sacked a career-high 42 times.
What all this means is that Mariota was basically not operating anywhere near 100 percent at any point in the season – save perhaps the first half of the season opener in Miami.
To view the glass half full, one would expect that Mariota might not be so unlucky this season and could not only put better numbers, but lead the Titans to more wins. To view it as half empty, it continues the disturbing trend and the questions that won’t go away about Mariota being injury prone. And that is why the Titans upgraded at the backup position this off-season by trading for Ryan Tannehill. Hedging their bet for when Mariota’s next injury comes about.
But the bigger issue is can the Titans do enough to better protect Mariota, and can he do some things better to protect himself. He is also entering the last year of his rookie contract with so many questions about his health still unanswered. In terms of health and on-field success, 2019 is make or break for Mariota and the Titans in more ways than one.

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