It’s official, the Tennessee Titans have selected Marcus Mariota! Today is day one of a brand new era for this franchise. Hopefully, Mariota can not only bring stability to the most important position in the game, but provide the franchise with a much needed face.
There have been a number of signs in the past couple of weeks that pointed towards the team selecting Mariota, if he was available with the second overall pick. Ruston Webster and Ken Whisenhunt have repeatedly emphasized how important it is to stabilize the position. When the team repeatedly gushed, and mentioned in general terms about how important the position is, how coaches look better when they have franchise Quarterbacks, how they need someone to start 16 games, and more, it became very obvious that the team was very much looking for that guy.
There is so much to love about Marcus Mariota. His character is absolutely through the roof. You will never need to worry about Vince Young-like work ethic questions. While we said the same thing about Jake Locker, Mariota has the talent to match. While some believe that he does not fit Ken Whisenhunt’s system because of his athleticism, it is not that simple. To quote Whisenhunt, "He exhibits a lot of the qualities that successful quarterbacks have. He doesn’t turn the ball over a lot, is accurate when he throws it, can extend the play…He has a lot of those things that those quarterbacks who have been successful in the league have." It is important to look at the traits that Mariota displays, and see how they translate to future quarterback play, rather than simply looking at the system that he ran in the past. He is a very accurate passer, who wins from the pocket, and when he uses his legs, he does so to extend the play while keeping his eyes up. He also processes information very quickly. His coaches have actually said that one of his flaws may be that he processes information too quickly sometimes when going through his reads. Mariota is a very task-driven quarterback, which Ken Whisenhunt will love. It’s not that he simply ran Oregon’s system, it’s the fact that he mastered it, and executed it to a tee.
While there was talk of a Philip Rivers trade, it simply did not make sense for the Titans, unless they were looking for hollow wins. Adding Rivers--a 33 year old quarterback, who will turn 34 at the beginning of the season--to a team that was at least somewhat knocking on the door would make sense, but it is important for the Titans to build a young core and a sustainable model that will translate to future, long term success. The Titans already added a couple of good, young players to build around, including a franchise Left Tackle, which is another key piece on the offensive side of the ball. Now, by adding a potential franchise quarterback, the Titans have an actual foundation to build on for the first time in many years.
Today was an absolutely monumentous day in the history of the franchise. The team has not had a franchise quarterback since Steve McNair left town. Exactly 20 years after drafting the "raw, exciting, athletic" McNair instead of the "big, pro-style, winning" Kerry Collins, the Titans made a very similar decision tonight. We can only hope that Mariota provides this fanbase with the same happiness and excitement that McNair once did for us—we all deserve it. Get your Hawaiian leis ready Titans fans, because Marcus Mariota is your new quarterback!