Welcome to “Keeping Up With Marcus Mariota,” where I take a look at Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota’s weekly tape and determine what I saw.
Yeah, yeah, I know I predicted the Titans to lose to the Jaguars on Sunday and that didn’t happen. I’m pretty good at willing Tennessee to victories when I pick against them, though, so you’re welcome.
What I didn’t expect was Marcus Mariota filling in for a concussed Blaine Gabbert. Mariota, sitting due to a nerve injury in his elbow, suddenly came in and had to quarterback the Titans offense to victory.
Mariota’s pedestrian numbers (12 of 18 for 100 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions while putting 51 yards on the ground) suggest he didn’t contribute all that much to the Titans’ 9-6 victory on the road. But truth be told, this is one of those performances where Mariota’s raw stats don’t do him justice, as he was a big reason why Tennessee was able to move to 2-1.
For starters, Mariota’s first three passes (His actual third pass, a throwaway in the area of Jonnu Smith, doesn’t count) all came on third downs, and all three of them were dropped.
This is an accurate third down throw to Rishard Matthews, who has this ball stripped from him before he can get two feet down. So while Matthews is able to avoid a fumble, he provides his quarterback with a costly drop.
Tajae Sharpe drops Mariota’s second pass, also on third down. This one is inexcusable, considering Sharpe is uncontested and should have an easy first down falling to the ground. The Titans are forced punt as a result.
It can be argued that Mariota’s third pass, again on third down, was not an accurate throw, but this is still a play Corey Davis needs to make, as the ball is placed in a spot where only he can get it.
Eventually, Mariota decided to just do everything himself, and managed to convert some key third downs later in the game, such as this run on 3rd and 2.
Eventually, Mariota’s receivers managed to haul in some throws in the second half.
This is a vintage pocket play from Mariota. He recognizes the blind side pressure, moves up the pocket while keeping his eyes up, resets himself and beats the stunt with a crucial pass to Corey Davis to convert the first down. At the time of this play the game was tied a 6-6, and the drive eventually ended with a Ryan Succop field goal that ultimately decided the game for Tennessee.
On the last drive, Matt LaFleur gets the ball into Mariota’s hands once more with a read option play. While Mariota isn’t quite as good of a runner as Cam Newton, he’s still really good, and I commend LaFleur for using this play at the right time, as #8 goes through a small gap for another third down conversion.
This wasn’t a spectacular performance by any means, but Marcus Mariota was huge in this one thanks to his contributions on third down. While he continues to recover from injury, starting 2-1 on the season is massive for the Titans. They get a big test at home with the Eagles coming to visit, which is why their start to the season is critical.
To conclude, Mariota had a good performance that was much better than what the box score said of him.