Marcus Mariota is the Best Thing To Happen to Nashville Since Francis Nash Himself
Being a Titans fan has not been easy for quite some time now. The team has essentially done nothing but move backwards ever since the NFL thought Vince Young was going to be a franchise quarterback. *Laughs hysterically.* Take a look at the past seven seasons:
One great season led by a fraud who spent all his money at T.G.I Fridays, followed by a six-season downward slope through mediocrity descending upon disaster. From that disaster arose a glimmer of light: the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
With such a hot commodity, there were two things Whisenhunt and Webster could have done: traded it away to a team like the Philadelphia Eagles, who were reportedly ready to sell the Titans just about every Pro Bowl player and future draft pick they have, or draft University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
They chose the latter—and it’s the best decision this organization has made in a long time. Here’s why.
The Titans’ current record is not a reflection of him.
As it stands after week six (five weeks of play and a bye week), the Titans’ record is 1-4. That makes them one of the worst teams in the league. In their sole win, the Titans blew out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-14—Mariota throwing for over 200 yards and four touchdowns.
In the next four losses, the Titans have been outscored 115-70. They let up 115 points in just four games. That’s largely a problem on the other side of the ball. An atrocious run defense has essentially made it difficult for Marcus to keep up. Even so, he nearly was able to pull off a win over defending AFC South Champions, the Indianapolis Colts, throwing for another 367 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-33 loss.
That’s impressive for a rookie—especially one who has been sacked the third most in the NFL (19) thanks to terrible pass blocking. Sure up the fronts on each side of the ball and you’re starting to look at a real football team.
So far, he’s better than Peyton Manning.
Peyton Manning’s 2015 stat line through six games:
1,524 pass yards, 7 TD, 10 INT, 61.6 percent completions, 72.5 passer rating.
Marcus Mariota’s 2015 stat line through five games:
1,239 pass yards, 9 TD, 5 INT, 64.0 percent completions, 93.2 passer rating.
Mariota has basically been better on all ends outside of total yards. Peyton’s Denver Broncos are undefeated this season, largely thanks to stellar play by their defense. ESPN is going to kill me for this (because the Manning bros are their golden boys), but that undefeated team would be so much better with Mariota throwing to Thomas and Sanders. It would finally give that Denver defense some damn support.
He should have been the #1 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Here are what scouts saw which had Jameis Winston labeled as a better NFL prospect than Mariota:
-Mariota plays in a QB-friendly system in Oregon’s spread offense
-Winston is a pro-style QB that can come in with immediate impact
-Mariota isn’t a leader
-Winston is a leader
-Mariota is too soft spoken
-Mariota can’t take snaps under center
-Mariota will be good in two-three years
-Winston has better throwing mechanics than Mariota
Ok—now here’s what the stats showed:
Winston threw more interceptions his final season at Florida State than Mariota did his entire three seasons at Oregon. Mariota threw for 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns in comparison to Winston’s 3,907 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2014. Remind me who the better passer/decision maker is, please.
And let’s not forget about his work on the ground. The kid runs a 4.52 second 40-yard dash as a quarterback.
His 16 rushing touchdowns combined with 42 passing touchdowns in 2014 accounted for 58 on the year. That’s five shy of a college football record. But still—that won’t pan out in the NFL, right?
His college-to-NFL-transition is going light years faster than expected.
Despite being sacked 19 times, Mariota’s game has been on point for a rookie. There was nothing more exciting/promising than watching this kid come out guns blazing in that incredible week one debut. And let’s not forget about his interception rate (or lack thereof) as he entered his first NFL training camp:
Update: Marcus Mariota has thrown 186 passes without an interception in Titans training camp pic.twitter.com/vL8PM5STCw
— Everything TN (@Everything_TN) August 13, 2015
One of the biggest concerns about Mariota going into the draft was the idea that he was not ready to have success in the NFL yet. That idea couldn’t have proven to be more false. Here’s one scout willing to admit it:
Marcus Mariota is right now where I thought he'd be in about three years.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 27, 2015
He’s a great role model.
Another thing about Mariota that concerned scouts: He’s too nice.
Are you kidding me? Too nice? Sorry—I didn’t realize that you can’t be a genuinely good and friendly guy all while having success in professional sports. Just because he’s a laid back kid from Hawaii who says please, thank you, loves his family and is generally respectful to everyone doesn’t mean he can’t lead a professional team of men.
There are so many questionable characters in professional sports today and I’m glad that the Tennessee Titans quarterback isn’t one of them. I wouldn’t just let my kids wear his jersey, I’d urge them to. That’s more than a Dallas Cowboys fan could ever say.
He’s got high praise from NFL leaders.
Once again—Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles nearly traded their entire team for the ability to draft him. Take it from an NFL insider himself:
What package are #Eagles talking about to go to No. 1 or No. 2? Two 1st rounders, a 3rd rounder, Fletcher Cox, Boykin, Kendricks, more. Wow.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2015
Kelly, who coached Mariota in his time at Oregon, is one of very few coaches with full control of his team’s roster. CBS NFL insider Jason La Confora once reported the extent of Kelly’s infatuation with the young quarterback as the following:
“People in contact with Kelly through his initial NFL coaching interviews say he gushed about Mariota even way back then, calling him the most talented player he had ever worked with, a tremendous kid and glowing quarterback whom Kelly believed “would win multiple Super Bowls.”
Multiple Super Bowls.
Maybe Chip Kelly should have mortgaged the draft to go get Marcus Mariota…
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 20, 2015
He looks like the first true franchise QB in Tennessee since Steve McNair.
His maturity, his poise, his calm demeanor, and his undeniable skill set are all things we haven’t seen come together in the form of a Tennessee Titans quarterback in a long, long time.
Get well soon, Marcus! Go Titans!
P.S. That was a dirty hit.