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 accuracy of the pass (scale will be explained below).
Also, I will not post the clip for each throw in this article, like I have done previously. I will only post the clips of the throws that I thought were most significant. However, I will link a Youtube video that will include each and every attempt. I will also include the timestamp from the Youtube video for each attempt that I do not provide a clip for. At the end of the article, I will summarize my thoughts on his weekly performance, tally up all of the accuracy grades, and put a poll for you guys to grade his weekly performance. Hopefully by the end of the season, we will have an accuracy grade for each of Mariota’s throws and a weekly performance grade for each week.
Accuracy Grading Scale:
- Accurate: Ball placement is within the immediate catch radius of the WR. The distance of the ball placement could allow the WR to easily touch the ball with two hands.
- Inaccurate Catchable: Ball placement is not within the immediate catch radius of the WR. However, the ball is only catchable if the WR significantly extends for the ball and/or significantly adjusts his original path to the ball.
- Inaccurate Uncatchable: Ball placement is not within the immediate catch radius of the WR. Even with significant extension and adjustment, the WR would be unable to catch the ball.
- Null: The ball is thrown away, tipped at the line, or there is an obvious miscommunication with the WR.
Attempt #1 (0:04)
What happened: The very first attempt starts with some play action to Derrick Henry. As soon as Mariota begins to roll out to his right, he is met with pressure from Oliver Vernon. Marcus is able to easily out run Vernon. When Mariota gets to the sideline, Brown’s DB #34 leaves Delanie Walker to tackle Mariota. Right before he gets hit, Marcus throws it to Delanie on the run for a solid gain. The Titans would also tack on an addition 15 yards for a roughing the passer penalty against the Browns. Great job of Marcus being able to improvise on the run on this attempt.
Result: Complete to Delanie Walker for 10 yards (plus 15 yards from penalty)
What happened: Best throw of the week. Click on the Tweet to see my analysis of this throw.
Result: Complete to AJ Brown for 47 yards
Attempt #3 (0:52)
What happened: The receiver spacing for this play is not great. All three receivers are on the right far corner of the field and all are easily covered on the play. As a result, Mariota has no option, but to check it down to AJ Brown underneath for a minimal gain.
Result: Complete to AJ Brown for 2 yards
Attempt #4 (1:07)
What happened: This is a great play call by Arthur Smith. The Brown’s CB blitzes from the left side and so Smith calls a screen play to the right side. If Dion is able to catch this ball, this play could have easily resulted in a first down and possibly a touchdown, as Dion has Ben Jones and Jamil Douglas blocking in front for him with only one Brown’s defender to beat.
Result: Incomplete dropped by Dion Lewis
Attempt #5 (1:25)
What happened: Arthur Smith goes with another play action, but this time it is a screen pass back to Derrick Henry. However, the corner blitz from the short side of the field prevents the screen from developing and Mariota has to throw it away. Otherwise, this looked like it could have been a huge play (more on that later).
Result: Incomplete thrown away
What happened: This is another play action pass with a roll out to the left. The play action draws in 7 defenders. Now, this is a difficult throw to make rolling to the left for a right-handed QB. While it would be nice for Mariota to make this throw, it is understandable for him to be inaccurate on this specific throw, especially as he is facing pressure.
Result: Incomplete to Corey Davis
Grade: Inaccurate Uncatchable
Attempt #7 (1:52)
What happened: This attempt is a play action tunnel screen intended to get Delanie Walker out in space. However, Dennis Kelly is unable to reach the CB on his block, which results in Walker get nailed. If Kelly makes this block, this play could have gone for a huge gain. Once Lewan is back, we will be able to execute much better on these types of play calls.
Result: Incomplete dropped by Delanie Walker
What happened: Another play action pass! Notice how pre-snap we get Mycole Pruitt motioning to the right and the corners follows Pruitt. This immediate tells Marcus that it is man coverage and gives him an immediate idea of which matchup he likes pre-snap. I like how quickly Marcus is able to find Delanie (the matchup that he liked pre-snap) and get the ball out from the play action with accuracy.
Result: Complete to Delanie Walker for 16 yards
Attempt #9 (2:25)
What happened: Unlike the miss in attempt #6, this is one that Mariota needs to make with consistency. Mariota just seems to overshoot AJ Brown to the far right. However, he does have Mycole Pruitt streaking to the left wide open for a touchdown.
Result: Incomplete to AJ Brown
Grade: Innaccurate uncatchable
Attempt #10 (2:37)
What happened: Another play action pass from Arthur Smith. The Browns try to combat the play action roll out by sending the corner blitz from the right side. Marcus does an excellent job of evading the CB long enough to throw the ball away. If it wasn’t for the blitz, this could have been a huge gain to Corey Davis, who is wide open at the second level.
Result: Incomplete thrown away
Attempt #11 (2:52)
What happened: I liked the play design on this attempt. The Titans spread out with 5 receivers. It seems like Mariota has already determined presnap that he is going to throw the ball to Jonnu Smith because the CB gives over 10 yards of cushion to Jonnu Smith. As a result, Mariota gets the ball out quick to Jonnu on a short hitch route for a solid gain on 2nd & 10 to make it a manageable 3rd down.
Result: Complete to Jonnu Smith for 7 yards
What happened: Another great play design and call from Arthur Smith. Looks like Arthur Smith has taken a page out of the Eagle’s and Doug Pederson’s playbook. This play gives me a lot of optimism for the offense moving forward, as he makes things extremely easy for Marcus on this 3rd & 3. Corey Davis runs a rub route inside and sets a pick to allow Adam Humphries to become wide open on his out route. Great execution and play call.
Result: Complete to Adam Humphries for 5 yards
What happened: Another miss by Mariota to Corey Davis. Davis goes up against Denzel Ward man to man. Davis uses his physically to free him self up as he breaks inside on this post route. However, Mariota sails the ball high and away from Davis. This is certainly a pass that Davis has shown the capability of making, but I put the blame on Marcus for this one. Mariota needs to place the ball in a better spot for Davis. There has been a lot of talk about how Corey had 0 yards this week, but the opportunities were certainly there. Marcus just missed on them to Corey. I fully expect the Mariota-Davis connection to be back on track soon.
Result: Incomplete dropped by Corey Davis
Grade: Inaccurate Catchable
Attempt #14 (3:41)
What happened: This is a 3rd & 18. Mariota makes a smart decision to just dump it off to Dion Lewis in the middle, as no one is open down field, before he gets hit by the pass rushers. Just get the extra couple of yards and let Brett Kern do his thing.
Result: Complete to Dion Lewis for 7 yards
What happened: Again, the Titans move Delanie Walker in motion to identify that the Browns are playing in zone coverage. Corey Davis is essentially a decoy on this play as he runs a short crossing route to lure away Joe Schobert in the middle. Delanie then trails behind Corey into the soft spot of the zone for the wide open catch. Another very QB friendly play call to make things easy for Marcus.
Result: Complete to Delanie Walker for 11 yards
Attempt #16 (4:17)
What happened: Mariota looks a little antsy in the pocket on this play and you can tell that he is feeling the pressure. At first, he scans the right side of the field wanting to throw to his favorite target, Delanie Walker. However, once Marcus feels the pressure, he prematurely moves over to the left side to Tajae Sharpe, who has already made his break. As a result, Marcus throws it late to Tajae on this pass. I do believe that this should have been a defensive pass interference. If Mariota had waited a little longer in the pocket, he would have found a wide open Delanie Walker on his first read.
Result: Incomplete dropped by Tajae Sharpe
Attempt #17 (4:30)
What happened: Batted at the line.
Result: Incomplete batted down by Sheldon Richardson
What happened: This is another miss from Marcus that should have been a huge play. With an accurate throw, this could have been a 25 yard gain. I have heard some say that Tajae was late coming out of his breaks, but in my opinion he looked “Sharpe”. I think this is a combination of Marcus throwing the ball too early and just flat out being inaccurate.
Grade: Inaccurate Uncatchable
What happened: Another play action pass. Mariota is able to get the ball out quickly after he turns around on the play action. He hits AJ Brown perfectly in stride so that Brown can keep running without slowing down after the catch. From there, it is all beast mode Brown.
Result: Complete to AJ Brown for 51 yards
Attempt #20 (5:30)
What happened: On this attempt, the pass rush gets to Marcus before anyone is open downfield. Therefore, he just dumps it off to Dion Lewis, who is unable to make anything happen after the catch.
Result: Complete to Dion Lewis for 1 yard
Attempt #21 (5:47)
What happened: The Titans spread out with 5 receivers on this attempt. Arthur Smith gives Marcus a lot of quick options to offset the Brown’s pass rush. Dion Lewis is put in motion before the snap to get behind Delanie Walker. This gives Dion Lewis the ball in space against a linebacker, which is what we want. However once again, he is unable to gain any yards after the catch.
Result: Complete to Dion Lewis for -2 yards
What happened: This play is similar to the play in attempt #5. It didn’t work out before because of the pressure from the corner blitz, but this time Marcus is able to hold onto the ball long enough for Derrick Henry to get to his spot. After the catch, it is just pure speed from Henry, who out runs everyone.
Result: Complete to Derrick Henry for a 75 yard Touchdown
What happened: On this attempt, the Browns have 10 guys in the box to defend against a run to Derrick Henry on this play action. In 2018, Matt Lefleur would have likely ran the ball in this situation. Anyways, all the linebackers bite on the play action and Delanie Walker is left wide open in the middle for an easy catch and throw.
Result: Complete to Delanie Walker for an 11 yard Touchdown
What happened: After three consecutive successful runs to Derrick Henry, the Titans come back to their reliable play action pass in the redzone. 10 defenders surround the line to defend the run. Cleveland sends another corner blitz. Arthur Smith counters this by having Delanie fake like he is going to block and pivot back out towards the sideline to get wide open.
Result: Complete to Delanie Walker for a 7 yard Touchdown
Accuracy Grade Results:
- Accurate: 17
- Inaccurate Catchable: 1
- Inaccurate Uncatchable: 3
- Null: 3
Overall, I thought Mariota had a good, not great, game. He was accurate on 17 out of his 21 passing attempts (3 taken out as null). Marcus ended the game going 14/24 for 248 yards and 3 TD’s. The stats can be deceiving though. He was not asked to make a lot of difficult throws in this game. He did hit on a couple of great throws, but he also missed out on a couple (attempt #9, #13, and #18). The bottom line is that Mariota had a good game, but there is definitely some room for improvement. It is nice to see that despite his less than perfect performance that he was still very productive during the game.
For Mariota’s production, we truly need to credit Arthur Smith for calling a great game and for creating a game plan that was extremely QB friendly (for the first time in Mariota’s career). Arthur made things easy for Marcus on most plays, giving him quick easy throws and one-read play calls to combat the Brown’s excellent pass rushers. He put the ball in the hands of our best playmakers and allowed them to make plays in space. Even though we had 339 total yards on offense and scored 33 offensives points, a lot of yards and plays were still left on the field. This is extremely encouraging to see. As we move forward, better execution from the offense, a sharper Marcus Mariota, and the return of Taylor Lewan could lead to a very exciting offense this season.
How would you grade Marcus Mariota’s week 1 performance?
This poll is closed