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Despite some struggles, Marcus Mariota is still the Titans’ mid-season MVP

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This was a tough call.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When I was asked to do this post and name a mid-season MVP for the Tennessee Titans, I’ll admit — I was initially stumped.

We’ve seen both sides of the ball struggle to find their consistent groove. No player has really stood out as spectacular or indispensable on the offensive side. I gave some thought to Wesley Woodyard and Kevin Byard, who are having great seasons, but I ultimately settled on Marcus Mariota.

Here’s why.

Did you watch the game against the Dolphins? Or the second half against the Texans?Tennessee was lost without Mariota back there running the show. They were clearly more comfortable with a wounded Mariota at half strength against the Colts and Browns than they were with Matt Cassel.

And maybe that’s an indictment on the Titans’ backup quarterback situation more than anything, but still. There’s no doubt who the most valuable player is to this offense.

Mariota’s numbers aren’t great to this point, but in the full games that he’s played at full strength, the offense has really popped. They’ve scored 16, 37, and 33 points. He was able to lead the Titans to 36 points against the Colts with a bum hammy, too.

We can’t ignore the game against Cleveland here, but it does seem to be the outlier of the group. That score looks a lot better if the Titans are able to punch in that touchdown on the goal line or if Marcus hits that easy toss to Delanie Walker.

With Tennessee’s struggle to consistently win between the tackles so far this year, Mariota is going to be needed more than ever down the stretch. They’ve proven they can’t win without him.

Has Mariota been perfect this year? Not in the slightest. He’s been downright bad in some spots. But if you define the most valuable player like I do, Mariota is definitely this squad’s MVP right now. Let’s hope that he’s fully healthy starting Sunday and we can forget all about that offensive debacle in Cleveland.