Could that have gone any better? The Tennessee Titans opened the Marcus Mariota era with a 42-14 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a total team effort as the Titans dominated in every area of the game. However, one player stood out, and I think you know who I'm talking about.
Marcus Mariota was as good as it gets today. The number two overall pick overshadowed the number one overall pick in a big way. Mariota fired four touchdowns on just 16 attempts. He got the ball rolling early with a play action pass to Kendall Wright on a post. Wright did the rest, scoring from 52 yards out.
Mariota was far from finished, but the defense showed up on the following Buccaneer possession. Jameis Winston -- also in his first NFL start -- threw an out route that was jumped by Coty Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh housed it, putting Tennessee up by 14.
Marcus went back to work immediately, putting together a six play drive good for 63 yards. The drive lasted just over three minutes, ending in a Bishop Sankey score. Mariota went on to throw two more touchdowns -- one to Harry Douglas and one to Delanie Walker.
Defensively, it was almost just as easy. The Titans picked off Jameis Winston twice, including an incredible play from rookie Deiontrez Mount. Winston set up to throw a screen and Mount read it perfectly.
It was a rough day for Winston, who was playing with a rookie left tackle and without his main target in Mike Evans. Winston was able to throw for two touchdowns on the day. His final line was 11-20, 148 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Mariota wasn't the only rookie that showed out. Jeremiah Poutasi played well on the right side in his first start. Angelo Blackson flashed a few times, along with Deiontrez Mount.
With Antonio Andrews out, newly acquired Terrance West assumed number two running back duties. West ran hard and showed some pop and power. West is just in his second year and was a high upside acquisition for the Titans. He ran for 41 yards this afternoon, but it remains to be seen how he will factor in once David Cobb and Antonio Andrews are healthy.
Just how good was Marcus Mariota? He threw more touchdowns than incompletions. Per ESPN's stats crew, Mariota was 8-8 from the shotgun formation today. He was the second rookie EVER to throw for four touchdowns in a game. The other? Fran Tarkenton. But here's the thing -- Mariota did it in one half. Amazing.
Mariota's debut couldn't have gone any better. The offense was humming. Whisenhunt's gameplan and play-calling was near perfect. They played to Mariota's strengths, incorporating some read option and run-pass options. It's only week one -- and the NFL doesn't have much tape on him, but you have to be excited about the future of this franchise with Mariota at the helm.