The Tennessee Titans are seemingly faced with a difficult decision regarding QB Marcus Mariota. He’s only been to the playoffs once, has an extensive injury history, and has been at the center of offensive struggles that have plagued the Titans for the last 2 seasons. Now for the blame of those struggles, you’re obviously going to point to the QB position first. Considering the QB is the nucleus of a football team, the initial finger pointing is warranted. But in this case, the QB isn’t the overwhelming reason why the Titans offense has struggled.
Marcus Mariota, and I can’t say this enough, has not had the benefit of a strong offensive foundation as consistently as many other successful offenses around the league. From playing behind arguably the league’s worst offensive line as a rookie, to getting sacked 11 times in one game against the Baltimore Ravens, it’s obvious Mariota hasn’t had the benefit of the doubt regarding an offensive foundation. Now of course there’s always a solution to a problem like this. Just simply surround your QB with as many pieces you can to put himself in the best position to succeed. It’s just like Patrick Mahomes and his situation in Kansas City. Mahomes had the luxury to sit for a year and learn before he was thrust into the starting lineup. Plenty differences in organizational stability and coaching staffs, but you get the point.
It isn’t even just the offensive line that has been a problem. Marcus Mariota has never had a true game changer on the outside in his career.
Early on, some people thought Dorial Green-Beckham was the game breaker Marcus needed, but he flamed out and left Marcus with one reliable pass catcher. Delanie Walker is that guy and has been a steady option for Marcus for the last 2-3 years, but you would love to see a guy on the outside who can make plays so Marcus won’t have to throw to his only reliable pass catcher in windows like this.
By the way, kids don’t ever try this throw. This was a risky throw that just Marcus somehow found a way to drop in.
Which brings me back to the point, what have the Titans done WR wise to help elevate the play of Marcus Mariota? Well there was the rise and fall of Dorial Green Beckham, Kendall Wright came and passed through, Rishard Matthews let his attitude get the best of him, Taywan Taylor dropped way too many passes, and Eric Decker couldn’t seem to catch. That leaves Corey Davis, who while had his best year as a pro this season, was far too often double teamed as he was the only reliable pass catcher who could win vs man coverage and could..well catch the football.
Now you might ask, what has Jon Robinson done to even help this problem? He’s drafted Corey Davis #5 overall in 2017, drafted Taywan Taylor in the 3rd round in 2017, Rishard Matthews had 2 productive years but ended up asking to be released after his snaps were limited early on in the year. He’s also drafted Tajae Sharpe in 5th round in 2016, but he’s playing a WR spot too high due to his small hands and average speed which leaves him vulnerable to being unsuccessful vs. man coverage. Jonnu Smith is next guy, drafted in 2017, Smith struggled as a rookie as a blocker and that continued partly into the 2018 season. He then put together some good performances, before going down for the year with a knee injury.
That’s it…..no seriously that’s it.
Sure, say Marcus should be dominating with the weapons that have been added over the last couple of years. But that simply isn’t the case, and it isn’t Marcus’ fault. Plenty passes have been dropped and awareness with the ball in some of their hand has left many plays on the field. See how hard it is to score points when your offensive line is letting up constant pressure and your wide receivers can’t create separation and catch the football? But I’m sure Titans fans will still find a way to blame Marcus for not catching passes, or not blocking for himself, or even not drafting the right offensive puzzle pieces so the offense can be lighting up scoreboards.
You could even argue that the lack of offensive coaching stability has hindered Marcus’ development, but we can save that for a later date.
Now you might read over this and call me guy who baby’s Marcus Mariota and doesn’t blame him for his share of mistakes.
I’m not at all.
I’m just speaking fairly on what the obstacles are that blocking Mariota and the offense from reaching heights the Titans haven’t seen maybe ever.
Now Marcus does have his mistakes.
He can hold on to the ball far too long, his accuracy can be a little off AT TIMES, and he hasn’t been able to play a full 16 games in a season yet. But if these issues I’ve explained above can be solved, the Titans should be pleased with the results they can expect from the offense as a whole, not just Marcus himself.
Marcus can do better getting rid of the ball quicker and not being late on some of his throws. Oh and throwing blocks like these? I understand the fire that can be lit with this play, but with Marcus’ injury history, I prefer him to not even think about doing this again. Seriously, I held my breath as I watched him make this block.
Also these interceptions happening? Can’t happen. I know it seems like cherry picking, but this interception bothered me mostly because everyone and their mother knows the Colts ran zone almost all the time because they don’t have the versatile personnel to run man coverage as much and they probably would like.
So in the meantime, let’s not throw the guy under the bus for things that aren’t in his control. Stop the comments questioning his toughness, stop bashing the guy when a wide receiver drops a ball, and stop blaming the guy when pressure is in his face almost every play. Let Jon Robinson put the necessary pieces around him and let him work.
Already step 1 of the off-season is completed, find Marcus an offensive coordinator.
Titans promote Arthur Smith to offensive coordinator #TitanUp
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 21, 2019
Now that Marcus has his offensive coordinator, all we can do is relax and take a step back. Watch the off-season unfold and then save your judgement for Marcus after his pivotal 5th season.