Hello fellow Titans fans. We have been through so much over the years. I remember just two years ago after the Titans pulled off a miracle comeback win against the Kansas City Chiefs, with a Ryan Succop last minute field goal, that maybe this franchise was ready to turn the corner and that Mariota was going to lead us to the playoffs. Unfortunately the next week Mariota broke his fibula and we missed the playoffs as a result of losing that game to the Jaguars. My heart sank.
Fast forward to now, it seems like things haven't been quite the same. I haven't shared that level of optimism about the team or Mariota, for that matter, since that point. Don't get me wrong, making the playoffs last year was exciting, but we knew that Mularkey's offense was not a good fit for Mariota and it became painfully obvious throughout the season. I applauded Jon Robinson for not focusing on the results of making the playoffs and winning a game, but instead looking at the process and realizing this team wasn't going to reach it's potential with Mike Mularkey at the helm.
In that same way that he viewed this team, I believe he needs to view his QB in the same manner. Now before I start, I know speaking negatively on Mariota is a sore spot here and a lot of fans are staunch believers in him, and I understand why. He has many of the tools to be a great QB, but he's not. If we're really being honest, he's only shown flashes. In order to truly be considered great, consistency is a must and we have yet to see it. There are so many excuses made about why he is struggling or why he hasn't broke out, but the reality is, we are hanging on to the idea of who we think he is instead of who he actual is.
Look I get it. He seems like an amazing guy. Very well mannered, respected, professional, taking responsibility even when it isn't his fault. He's everything you would want in a franchise QB character-wise and that's why I think it's so hard to accept the idea that he just hasn't lived up to expectations.
With all this said, I have an idea of how this team needs to proceed forward. It's very possible that Mariota could turn into an Alex Smith type, where he is a late bloomer and it clicks for him, but for now, we have to operate under the assumption this team is ready to win and it needs to do the best to get there. After this season is over, outside of making it to Conference Championship game or the Super Bowl, this team needs to seriously consider drafting a QB in the 1st or 2nd round. Now before you get upset, hear me out.
Notice I didn't say, you get rid of Mariota? I'm not suggesting that we do, but I think like any team, you have to put together the best team possible, even if that means possibly replacing players we love. My thinking is this, you draft a QB and you have someone that at worst is a good backup. Mariota's option has already been picked up, so he stays here and remains the starter. Maybe you have someone that truly gives Mariota competition, maybe it motivates him (not really sure he needs that), or maybe he will be proven to simply be better. If the drafted QB isn't quite as good, then hopefully you at least have reliable backup QB. If he needs a few years of developing, then maybe you franchise Mariota after his contract is up to keep him around until you are sure you know who is the best QB of the two.
Teams have done this for years. Mahomes was drafted while the Chiefs had Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers was drafted while the Packers had Brett Favre, and the Chargers drafted Phillip Rivers while they still had Brees. Sure the circumstances of each were completely different, but it goes to show you that drafting a QB early in the draft, even when you have one isn't unusual. It's a practice that teams do and I believe it's time for the Titans to do so.
If we have another year of Mariota having a lingering injury, are we going to keep pushing out the likes of players like Matt Cassel or Blaine Gabbert? Why not put someone out there, who is at least better than those players and at best could be a better QB than Mariota. What would be the harm? It gives you options and gives you the opportunity to properly evaluate Mariota. We have seen him play under 3 offensive coordinators, and we are hoping we have the right one in place now, but we haven't seen another QB competent enough to show us if perhaps our issues are a result of coaching or if we truly need another QB. I think the only way you can fairly assess Mariota, Matt LaFleur and everyone in this offense is to truly seek the best, even if that means replacing a player that you hoped would be that guy already.