After a bumpy start on Friday night, Marcus Mariota was able to bounce back and lead a touchdown drive to end his night. This was a huge development, considering how rough his start was. Mariota was able to block everything out and put the bad behind him. That's exactly what you want to see out of your franchise quarterback.
The third drive started with two rushing attempts that went nowhere. Bishop Sankey was stuffed, setting up a key 3rd and 12. Mariota's third drive as a Titan was looking like it would be doomed too, but the rookie came through when it counted. Check out this throw.
Harry Douglas appears to be his second read. Marcus got good protection, allowing him to let Douglas sit his route down in between defenders. The ball comes out on time, accurately. First down.
After trying a number of different times to get the run game going, Whisenhunt finally changed it up. He dials up a quick screen to Kendall Wright here, getting Mariota in a bit of a groove.
This was a simple yet effective snap, setting up a 2nd and short, which the Titans had not seen before this. This kept the ball rolling from Mariota's previous 3rd down conversion.
With a rare 2nd and short, Whisenhunt dialed up another pass.
The pass was thrown once again to Douglas, who seemed to have instant chemistry with Mariota. It was a simple 15 yard comeback route, which Marcus delivered with plenty of zip. The ball was a bit high, but Douglas did a nice job corralling it.
The previous play ended the quarter, but Whisenhunt kept the momentum rolling with another pass.
This was an interesting play. Marcus was cocked and loaded, ready to hit Dexter McCluster on a curl route. It was his first read, but Mariota saw the creeping linebacker in zone coverage. Mariota pulled the ball down and immediately hit Anthony Fasano over the middle.
After yet another failed rushing attempt, Mariota was faced with a 3rd and 3. Whisenhunt once again let him throw for it.
This was an excellent design. Watch Kendall Wright on the play. He runs a slant directly into the linebacker coming out to cover Andrews. Wright acted as a pick on the play, freeing up Andrews on the wheel. Mariota hits Andrews in stride, setting the Titans up inside the ten. From there, McCluster took a simple toss sweep to the endzone.
Mariota's 5-5 performance on this drive should have you excited. The national media will highlight the two turnovers early, but I'm more interested in Marcus' response on the field. He was flawless on this drive. It took three drives for Whisenhunt and Mariota to get in sync, but when they did it was fun to watch. Expect more passes on early downs next week against St. Louis.