It was far from a perfect start to the Marcus Mariota era, but we did see what all the hype was about on Mariota's third and final drive. Mariota rebounded from an ugly start which included two turnovers. After completing his first passes to Harry Douglas and Anthony Fasano, Mariota fell victim to his first interception -- although it wasn't totally on the rookie quarterback.
The interception came on a broken screen play. Bishop Sankey looked lost on the play as he sneaked out of the backfield. The play was so slow developing that Justin Durant was able to easily read it and react. Mariota floated the pass, serving it up easily to Durant. It was a mistake that could have been avoided by Mariota by simply throwing it into the dirt.
Mariota's next drive ended with a fumble. It was an instance where Marcus didn't feel the rush and step up into the pocket. His eyes were locked downfield, however. The rush didn't bother him, but the pass rusher was able to bat the ball out of Mariota's hand on his wind-up. It was good to see Mariota staying in the pocket and not looking to run immediately.
Marcus Mariota's best drive came on his third attempt. After two turnovers on his first two possessions, Mariota bounced back with a sharp touchdown drive. He went 5-5 for 78 yards, ending in a Dexter McCluster touchdown on a sweep play.
Mariota and Whisenhunt got into a rhythm during the drive. It began with a 3rd and 12 conversion to Harry Douglas. Marcus stood tall in the pocket, moved slightly to avoid the rush and delivered a strike to Douglas in between two defenders. It was a positive play when he seemingly needed it the most.
Whisenhunt followed this up with a quick screen to Kendall Wright, then Mariota delivered a 15 yard comeback to Douglas. One of the more memorable plays of the night was a wheel route to Antonio Andrews, which occured on a key 3rd and 3. Mariota delivered a nice touch pass out to Andrews, who did the rest. This play set the Titans up with a first down inside of the ten yard line.
Overall, Marcus looked sharp once he was allowed to get into a groove. It was apparent that Whisenhunt was determined to run the ball with Bishop Sankey, but it wasn't happening. Mariota settled into a groove and got more comfortable on that third drive. It was a big development, considering his rough start. The ability to shake off the bad and move forward is big for any quarterback. Marcus did just that. He ended the night 7-8 for 94 yards.