Tennessee Titans Matchups: Marcus Mariota vs. Falcons Cornerbacks


This is it. Marcus Mariota’s long awaited Tennessee Titans debut is upon us. The birds are chirping, the choir is singing; a new era is about to begin.

There are many individual matchups to look forward to in this preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Vic Beasley against Jeremiah Poutasi is one. Our pass rush against the Falcons offensive line is another. But perhaps the most interesting matchup (of course it involves Mariota) concerns the passing game.

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Being Mariota’s first test in the NFL makes this game all the more intriguing as a Titans fan. And his first test isn’t a relatively tough one. Atlanta gave up the most passing yards against last season, finishing last in pass defense by 240 yards. Desmond Trufant, easily the Falcons best cornerback, will not play in the preseason opener. The stars have aligned for Marcus to have a comfortable and successful start to his professional career.

But this game isn’t played on paper.

Any game can pose a difficult obstacle, no matter the quality of the opponent. And the Falcons figure to be improved on defense. Their new head coach, Dan Quinn, was the defensive coordinator for the defensively dominant Seattle Seahawks. They’ve added some key pieces to their pass rush and drafted two cornerbacks with a lot of potential. Those two cornerbacks are Jalen Collins and Kevin White, and they both figure to get plenty of playing time with Trufant out. Third-year player Robert Alford was decent last season, with training camp reports implying that he looks very improved heading into 2015.

One of the knocks on Mariota was that his receivers were always open in college. That won’t be the case in the NFL, and that won’t be the case in this game. Collins and White are good press-corners and won’t give the Tennessee Titans wide receivers too much room to operate. Can Mariota complete passes in very tight windows? It’s something he wasn’t asked to do much at Oregon, so it’s something to watch for.

This won’t be a walk in the park for Marcus Mariota. No game truly is. That said, with Trufant out and a couple rookie cornerbacks being thrown into the fire, Mariota has a good chance to begin his career on a positive note. I’d like to see him remain calm under pressure, complete his passes and keep the chains moving. Hopefully, he encounters a little adversity and overcomes it. Then again, passing with flying colors won’t hurt either.

Next: Marcus Mariota Is Living The NFL Dream Tonight