As we go into a crucial fifth year for Marcus Mariota, I have decided to start a new article series for this season. I would like to go through and discuss each and every passing attempt by Mariota each week. This will help us as fans identify if Marcus is our franchise QB for the future or if we will have to go searching for a new QB next year. I hope this series will give us an accurate depiction of who Marcus Mariota truly is by the end of the season. For each attempt, I will explain what happens in the play, describe the outcome, and then grade the pass. Let me know in the comments down below if there is anything that you would like me to change about the formatting of this article series.
The grading system will be fairly simple: accurate, neutral, and inaccurate. Accurate passes will include passes where Marcus gives the receiver a chance to make the catch. I will be lenient with the good passes if it touches both hands of the receivers because I expect our receivers to make the catch even when they are contested. Neutral passes will include passes where Marcus just throws the ball away, has a miscommunication with the receiver, or if the pass is too difficult to determine as explicitly accurate or inaccurate. Inaccurate passes will include passes where the receiver has no chance to make the catch or is intercepted. Keep in mind that some of the grades are subjective and so I encourage everyone to also make their own assessments for each throw.
For this second preseason game, Marcus played in three drives and went 6/9 for 63 yards and 1 TD. He even somersaulted into the endzone for a 2 point conversion. For the most part, I thought Mariota had a fairly sharp outing. After all the commotion from national media about it being a “QB competition”, it was nice to see Marcus come in and shut down this false narrative.
Now, let’s get right into each attempt.
What happened: This attempt came on a long 3rd and 10. Marcus looks for his favorite deep target in Corey Davis. Mariota steps up nicely in the pocket and delivers this throw with pressure draped all around him. This is a throw that I had a hard time grading. Patriot’s 2nd round pick Joejuan Williams is glued onto Corey Davis in coverage and makes a nice play on the ball. Mariota has the right idea by throwing this ball towards the inside shoulder of Davis because Davis has the inside leverage on the stem of his route. However, Joejuan breaks back inside to bat the ball away. I like that he gave Davis a chance to make a play on the ball, but throwing to open Tajae Sharpe at the top may have been the better choice here. Overall, not a bad throw by Mariota, but just a better play by Joejuan.
Result: Incomplete to Corey Davis
What happened: This may just seem like “dink and dunk” pass, but it is the right read by Mariota. Marcus takes what the defense gives him on this play. The Patriot’s defenders play back to cover the deep routes and leave Darius Jennings wide open in the middle of the field. Marcus checks down to Jennings for a small, but solid gain.
Result: Complete to Darius Jennings for 5 yards
What happened: On his third drive, Mariota finally connected with Delanie Walker for the first time in game since last season. At first glance, it looks like Mariota threw this ball behind Walker. However, this may have been intentional. It looks like he may have thrown it a little left of Walker to avoid the Patriot’s linebacker (#51) to the right. A pass that lead Walker to the right may have been knocked away or caused Walker to get rocked by #51.
Result: Complete to Delanie Walker for 15 yards
What happened: Marcus throws a great ball to Corey Davis on this attempt, as he tries to get it out and away from the defender. I thought Davis also ran a great out route getting his hips low on his break to explode towards the sideline. However, once again Joejuan makes a great play on the ball and extends his arm to disrupt the pass. It looks like Joejuan uses his right arm to pry the ball out from Davis. Like attempt #1, I thought this is a great throw from Marcus, but just a better play from Joejuan. Joejuan had a much better day against Corey than Stephon Gilmore did last year. We need Corey to come down with these contested catches consistently during the season.
Result: Incomplete to Corey Davis
What happened: This is a terribly executed screen play. Marcus gets antsy with the oncoming pressure and therefore prematurely throws the pass far ahead of Alex Barnes. However, this is not a bad decision by Mariota as we would rather him throw the ball away and not take the hit during a meaningless preseason game. Also, props to the Patriot’s linebacker for sniffing out the screen.
Result: Incomplete to Jeremy McNichols
What happened: This is an example of a throw that was good enough to be complete, but could have been better. With a better placed ball, Davis had the potential gain some yards after the catch. The ball is slightly underthrown and Corey Davis has to dive to make this catch. Also, the pass protection holds up nicely here as Conklin and Kelly both win their one on one matchups on the outside and the interior linemen maintain a clean pocket for Marcus to step up into.
Result: Complete to Corey Davis for 20 yards
What happened: Although this is caught by Dion Lewis, Mariota overthrew the 5’8” Dion Lewis by a bit. If Dion had not made this incredible one handed catch, this could have resulted in an interception. Despite the high degree of difficulty on the catch, I still graded this throw as being “neutral” because Dion was able to make the catch.
Result: Complete to Dion Lewis for 9 yards
What happened: Marcus makes the right read here. He immediately recognizes the blitz and checks down to his quick route for a short gain. Decisions and play designs like this will help keep Mariota upright for 16 games this season.
Result: Complete to Jeremy McNichols for 3 yards
What happened: Marcus has the right idea on this attempt, but the placement of the pass leaves a lot to be desired. Mariota does a great job spinning away from the edge pressure. He identifies that JC Jackson is trailing AJ Brown and throws it up for Brown to make a play on the ball. However, the ball is underthrown, which allows Brown to draw the pass interference call. I would love to see Marcus improve on these off-scripts throws this season. This technically doesn’t count as a pass attempt, but I still included it because I thought it was significant to the final touchdown drive.
Result: Defensive Pass Interference for 27 yards
What happened: Finally, we get to the infamous “no look” pass to Delanie Walker. I’m not here to argue whether or not this is a true no look pass, but it is clear that to a certain extent Marcus looks the safety off to create space in the middle of the endzone for Delanie. Marcus puts some nice zip on the ball to get it to Delanie before he gets out of bounds. I am excited to have that Marcus to Delanie connection again this season.
Result: Touchdown to Delanie Walker for 11 yards
Going back through the grades for each throw, Mariota ended the night with 6 accurate throws, 3 neutral throws, and 1 inaccurate throw. Overall, it was a great night for Marcus. I certainly felt like he could have been a little better on a couple of throws, but it was nice to see that he only had 1 inaccurate throw out of 10 attempts. Let’s hope Mariota can keep up this great performance next week and continue to extinguish this foolish narrative of a “wide open QB competition”. Let me know down in the comments what you would grade each attempt!