Marcus Mariota had an NFL debut for the ages on Sunday while dismantling the Buc's defense and posting a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Without taking any of the spotlight off of the amazing performance by the rookie signal caller, let's take a look at some other accolades that could be spread around.
1) Bishop Sankey
Maybe it was the offseason conditioning program. Maybe it's the new offensive line. It may even be the repetitive recent attempts by the Titans to find a replacement for the second year running back. Whatever it is, Sankey played with a fire you need out of your running back. He looked decisive in his reads, played with more power than last year and still showed the speed to beat defenders to the edge. 12 carries for 74 yards is fine by me especially when you add in a couple receptions for 12 yards and 2 touchdowns total. If Sankey can continue to play at this level, it will go a long way in helping Mariota and the offense as a whole.
2) Kendall Wright
Kendall Wright looked amazing. This was the Kendall Wright we remember from his rookie year. It's amazing how much his speed and elusiveness can shine when you have a quarterback that can deliver the ball on time and in just the right spot. For a more in depth look at his touchdown look here. It wasn't just the touchdown though. My favorite play by Wright came at the 5:56 mark of the second quarter where he took a quick shot from Mariota for 22 yards spinning and bouncing off defenders down to the goal line. He fights hard for his size and can definitely be a playmaker.
3) Deiontrez Mount
It was only one play, but Mount's interception was a thing of beauty. He's long and lanky, but showed his football acumen by quickly diagnosing the play followed by his physical ability to go up and get the ball. I'm not crowning the 6th rounder in any way shape or form, but it is nice to see the potential and depth behind Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo.
4) Ken Whisenhunt
I need to give credit where credit is due, even if just for one week. Ken Whisenhunt made a fabulous challenge on the 4th down conversion spot that helped seal the game. His game management was on point during the matchup as was the coach's preperation for the Buc's. As well as the Titans' players played, the Buccaneer's were on their back foot the entire game on both sides of the ball. The Titan's offensive and defensive game plan was by far the better of the two teams.
Also kudos to Whisenhunt for integrating some quick tempo, read option, and a handful of "Oregon" style plays for Mariota. No, he didn't re-write the playbook, but just sprinkling in a dash of what makes your young quarterback comfortable shows a bend to the rigid structure he's been known for, and the "my way or the highway" attitude he's been pegged for having in the past about his offensive system.
5) Dick LeBeau
Yes, this was a rookie quarterback in his NFL debut with 2 rookie offensive linemen. And yes the Tamp Bay Buccaneers are a bad team. But Dick LeBeau and his defensive schemes did exactly what they were suppossed to do. If Winston had shredded the Titans like Mariota did, the narrative would be completely different today. No, the competition wasn't superb, but the Titans' defense made the Buc's look bad, which makes me feel good.
Yes, the Titans played against what was technically the worst team in the league last year, with a rookie quarterback and rookie offensive lineman. Yes the Titans won their first game last year as well against a much better Chiefs team, but for what it's worth, they look like a cohesive team headed in the same direction led by a competent captain for years to come.