With the information of the Tennessee Titans benching quarterback Marcus Mariota, it’s clear his time in Nashville is coming to an finish after this season. While Mariota did lead the Titans to 2 playoff appearances in his first 4 seasons, his tenure in Tennessee will go down as a disappointment for the second decide in the 2015 draft.
We all have gamers we personally root for, both as a result of they play for your favourite workforce, have a narrative that’s value celebrating, or they attended your alma mater. For Mariota, the final two have been the causes I was rooting for him success. He was the first Heisman winner in Oregon soccer historical past, and he took the program to heights we hadn’t seen earlier than. He was soft-spoken, however a baller on the discipline. And then additionally, by each account, he’s only a incredible child. Family man, respectful, and a wonderful chief off the discipline.
But why did Mariota not dwell as much as his draft slot? I’ll dive into a number of the explanation why and additionally what I assume occurs subsequent for him.
Mariota hasn’t had a lot teaching stability
There are so many influences in the improvement of extremely drafted quarterbacks that may make or break their profession. Their expertise and private development is a part of that course of, however I’d argue, and most would agree with me, that teaching is the No. 1 motive a younger quarterback succeeds or not. A nice coach can flip a mean quarterback into a very good quarterback, and a very good quarterback into an ideal quarterback.
Unfortunately, Mariota didn’t have profit of wonderful teaching for most of his profession, which isn’t the solely motive we’ve gotten thus far, but it surely’s value discussing.
Mariota was drafted by Ken Whisenhunt, who was correctly fired seven video games into Mariota’s rookie season. Enter Mike Mularkey to be the new tutor for Mariota as he completed out an OK rookie season. Mularkey remained head coach by means of 2017, and then he was changed by Mike Vrabel.
This previous offseason, the workforce promoted Arthur Smith to be the new offensive coordinator, Mariota’s fourth OC and fifth playcaller in his profession.
No quarterback in the NFL goes to succeed with 4 offensive coordinators in 5 seasons. First off, meaning there’s a brand new scheme every season. After you’ve spent months engaged on mastering one system, one language, one voice, now you’re switching to a different system, language, and voice.
I’ve talked about this usually and it’s essential right here: When you put in a brand new offense, it takes practically half a season to get into the move of the recreation. So once you lastly really feel snug after your first season in that system, it’s thrown in the rubbish with a brand new offensive coordinator.
Lastly, when you have got an offensive coordinator longer than a season, he can tailor an offense to your talent set extra simply getting into yr two. He’s seen you for a season, is aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and will work arduous to make some changes. You can’t have that happen with new coaches each season.
Mariota’s damage historical past retains rising
In 12 video games his rookie yr, Mariota missed 4 video games attributable to an MCL sprain. Still, he accomplished 62 p.c of passes and improved all through the season. Although he ranked 30th in Football Outsiders’ DYAR metric, he was 16th in QBR, which takes into consideration his top-notch working potential. People in Nashville have been excited for the way forward for Mariota.
In a wonderful improvement, Mariota improved so a lot in his second yr. He threw 26 touchdowns to 9 interceptions in 15 begins, and completed the season ranked 13th in DYAR, 10th in quarterback DVOA, and 12th in QBR. His adjusted yards per move try was the better of his profession at 7.9.
Everything was heading in the proper course — and then, catastrophe struck in Week 16. Mariota broke his leg and his promising season was over. That damaged leg seems like the tipping level of his profession. He appeared to by no means be the similar man. He by no means had the pocket motion or the confidence to face tall in the pocket once more, and he misplaced the potential to take and compete deep passes. I’ve theorized that Mariota by no means fairly trusted his leg after that damage. He had by no means suffered a serious damage till that point, not in highschool and not in faculty.
For athletes as distinctive as Mariota, they usually assume they’re invincible — perhaps not out loud, however subconsciously. And when you’re injured, that invincibility goes away.
Beyond that, not everybody recovers from the similar damage in the similar method. In 2014, Cleveland Browns middle, and now present Atlanta Falcons middle, Alex Mack fractured dislocated his ankle about 4 weeks earlier than I had the similar damage. He rehabbed, similar as I, and he was effective. No lingering results. I wasn’t effective. My ankle by no means bounced again to even near 100 p.c. Same damage, near the similar rehab, however two completely different outcomes.
It simply all the time felt to me that Mariota misplaced one thing when he received injured, and I’m unsure he’d disagree a bit. He returned in 2017 and performed in each recreation however one attributable to a hamstring pressure. He completed the season with solely 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, adjusted yards per try at 6.2 (yikes), and dropped to 19th in DYAR and 20th in DVOA.
But it was his first season off an damage. Maybe he wanted time to work by means of it.
In 2018, below new coach Vrabel and his third offensive coordinator in 4 seasons, things didn’t look significantly better. Mariota began 13 video games, with solely 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His DYAR and DVOA rankings fell to 27th, along with his QBR barely increased at 22. Mariota stopped taking possibilities downfield whereas additionally not utilizing his legs as a lot.
He missed one recreation attributable to a pinched nerve in his elbow, one other with a neck stinger, and reportedly handled a number of different accidents that yr.
Entering 2019, Mariota received his fourth OC and no assured contract after this season. Clearly, it hasn’t gone properly, as Ryan Tannehill changed him final week and is now beginning in Week 7.
Mariota’s OL hasn’t all the time achieved an ideal job of defending him
Besides the damage sapping of his powers and his revolving door of coaches, there may be one different issue when discussing his decline: his offensive line. Mariota has been sacked 155 instances in his profession, together with a league-leading 25 instances this season so far.
Mariota’s safety hasn’t been superb, but it surely additionally hasn’t been as bad because it appears to be like. For one, Mariota holds the ball too lengthy and generally he leaves the pocket too early.
Mariota has taken numerous sacks every season that weren’t on him, but it surely additionally felt like the Titans by no means designed an offense to restrict sacks. That could possibly be on the play designer, but additionally on Mariota. He’s by no means struck me as a quarterback who would succeed with a fast passing recreation, which might be the logical transfer to make after getting sacked so a lot.
So whereas his safety does deserve blame, Mariota shares a few of the fault.
What occurs to Mariota now?
I assume Mariota might be “fixed” if he goes someplace with an impressive coach. Are you telling me he couldn’t be like Teddy Bridgewater in New Orleans? Of course he may, and that could be the route for him, not less than for subsequent season.
A high-priced backup, with the probability to play if the starter goes down. I want Mariota luck, as I’m certainly one of his followers!