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Keeping Up With Marcus Mariota: Week 16, 2018

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Another setback marred a nice start to the game for Mariota.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Buckle up, because the Titans are a win away from making it back to the playoffs for the second year in a row, and the fate of their season rests on NBC at home against the Colts for the final regular season game of the year.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear if Tennessee will be with Marcus Mariota or not. Mariota suffered a stinger that kept him out of the entire second half against the Redskins on Saturday. That’s a shame because I thought he gave his best performance since the Monday Night game against the Texans. In a season where the fourth-year starter has taken many injuries, this one comes at the worst time.

In the first half against Washington, Mariota completed 10 of 13 passes for 110 yards (about 8.5 yards per attempt). There isn’t a big sample to draw from, but Mariota played well on Saturday, so let’s check his performance out in this week’s edition of Keeping Up With Marcus Mariota.

gamepass.nfl.com

Clearly, this was Mariota’s best play of the game. I’ve mentioned in the past how I think his pocket passing stands out more than his athleticism, but he’s proven he’s a capable scrambler time after time. The best part of the play is the Tony Romo-esque spin he gives to avoid the two Skins pass rushers as he just barely makes it across the first down marker.

gamepass.nfl.com

On this play, Mariota looks off the right middle of the field to clear an opening for Taywan Taylor on 3rd and long. Mariota’s ability to quickly cycle through his progressions is part of what’s made him such a viable player during his professional career, and he displays that here. The throw isn’t to a tight window, but I love how quickly Mariota processes the open receiver, and his timing to Taylor is perfect.

Sadly, Mariota was also sacked two times, the latter of which kept him out of the game, forcing Blaine Gabbert to hold the fort.

gamepass.nfl.com

It really does you quarterback no good when all of your receiving options are on one side of the field and are easily covered. Mariota appears to have his eyes on the shallow crosser, but decides against it and gets popped.

gamepass.nfl.com

On the stinger injury, the left side of the offensive line completely breaks down and Mariota doesn’t react in time. The Titans limited the hits on Mariota the previous three weeks, but the injury came at the wrong time, which sucks.

It’s bittersweet, but Marcus Mariota was connecting throughout and put together a nice performance. I do understand the concerns of Titans fans with paying for a guy who gets injured this much, but at the same time I don’t know how good this team would be without him. He’s not even on pace to hit 3,000 passing yards and yet I feel Mariota is vital to the success of this team.

Either way, here’s hoping Mariota’s stinger heals in time for Week 17, because a playoff spot is on the line.