The Tennessee Titans will decide Monday night and Tuesday whether or not to turn the quarterback position over to Ryan Tannehill and keep Marcus Mariota on the bench.
“I think that decision will be made this evening and tomorrow, and then we’ll let everybody know. We’ll let the players involved know, let the team know and then let you guys know,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said at his Monday press conference.
Mariota was benched for the first time in his career in Sunday’s 16-0 shutout loss in Denver. He completed just 7 of 18 passes for 63 yards and two interceptions.
Tannehill went 13 of 16 for 144 yards and could not produce any points either, throwing an end zone interception late in the game.
Asked why he wouldn’t make the decision already, Vrabel said, “I just want to make sure that we’re going through everything that we need to go through and what we want to do offensively, not use the emotion of the game to make a decision. Just sit back here with our coaches, talk to the trainer, find out what the injury report looks like, find out what the game plan is going to be, find out how we need to beat (the Los Angeles Chargers) and then figure out who we’re going to do it with offensively and defensively.”
Both Mariota, the team’s top pick in 2015, and Tannehill, acquired in a trade with Miami in the off-season, are free agents at season’s end. Sunday’s benching likely sealed Mariota’s fate as the long-term starter, barring an amazing turnaround, and it might have ended his run as the starter period, if the Titans believe Tannehill now gives them the best chance to break out of a prolonged offensive skid that has seen Tennessee go 2-4 despite the defense not allowing more than 19 points in any game this season.
Mariota has not played with the same confident look he did in his first few seasons, as the Titans have also surrendered a league-high 29 sacks.
“I wouldn’t even begin to try to touch on a player’s confidence level. That’s between the player and their game. I don’t think a coach ever spoke on my confidence level as a player, so I wouldn’t want to address their confidence,” Vrabel said. “I think that you build confidence through the week in preparation, feeling good about plays, feeling good about what you’re doing. Then, you also build it throughout the game. I think you build a rhythm, confidence, momentum in what we’re doing in all three phases.”
Simmons to practice
First-round pick Jeffery Simmons may be close to making his NFL debut. The Titans activated him from the non-football injury list so he can practice with the team this week and be activated onto the 53-man roster as soon as they believe he is ready to play.
“We anticipate him practicing. Again, we’ll make a smart decision, as always, in the best interest of the player when it deals with injuries and his comfort level as to when he might return,” Vrabel said.
Simmons tore his ACL training for the draft following the 2018 season. The defensive tackle was regarded as a top-10 talent as the Titans chose him with pick No. 19.