Tennessee Titans: How much protecting does Marcus Mariota need?
By Les Bailey
I know the offensive line is a sore subject that is talked about when fans discuss the state of the Tennessee Titans upcoming season around a couple of beers, but in the past few years the conversations have been about how to protect quarterbacks that were sitting ducks(no pun intended here) in the pocket.
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Neither Jake Locker or Zach Mettenberger have the kind of speed the Titans drafted on April 30th in the person of Marcus Mariota, so I had to ask the question: how muck protecting does our Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon need?
I’m a realist, and completely understand that Mariota is going to get sacked this year, especially having two games against the divisional rival Houston Texans and J.J. Watt plus an October 18th meeting with Ndamakong Suh and the Miami Dolphins.
But I saw Robert Griffin III escape some pretty nasty rushes during his rookie season with the Redskins. He eventually succumbed to injuries trying to extend plays where he probably should have thrown the ball away.
RGIII’s early success in avoiding the pass rush came with the dominating run game that featured Alfred Morris. Only because he was unable to improve his reads and get rid of the ball quickly, did he take some hits that eventually took him out of the game.
Based on this formula, I find more importance should be put on the running game as we get ready for the upcoming season, and not worry so much about protecting Marcus Mariota.
An interesting article by Will Lomas over at the SB Nation’s Music City Miracles begs the question: why aren’t the Titans pursuing former Philadelphia Eagles guard, Evan Mathis?
"My answer would be training camp. If he isn’t looking like a dominant guard, then pull the trigger on someone else that is available, specifically Evan Mathis.Evan Mathis is a stud guard who has graded out as one of the best guards in football according to PFF for the last four years. In fact, over that stretch of time Mathis graded out as the top guard three times and the year he wasn’t at the top he was second. That is the type of player that just doesn’t hit the market."
The Tennessee Titans have over $27 million in salary cap space available and should be looking at picking up the 10-year veteran out of Alabama.
Mathis missed seven games with an MCL sprain last year, but in three years in the City of Brotherly Love made 47 of 48 starts before his injury. I think he would make an excellent addition in Nashville, and as Will noted in his article of July 11th, take some pressure off Andy Levitre.
There are several teams that have some interest in Mathis, but his agent, Drew Rosenhaus is not anxious to make a deal. He thinks there is a better deal waiting if they wait until teams realize they need the veteran guard.
The Titans have the resources to make a legitimate run at Mathis, and should make it a priority to get him in camp before the end of training camp.
I personally don’t see Marcus Mariota running for his life on every pass play this year, but he will need some time to develop.
A solid run game will go miles in giving Mariota time to learn the offense and turn into the pocket passer head coach Ken Whisenhunt desires. A veteran guard like Evan Mathis would certainly help!
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