Marcus Mariota’s Extremely Encouraging Performance


Tennessee Titans fans should be very happy by the entire team’s performance in last night’s dominant win against Jeff Fisher and his St. Louis Rams. The Titans defense stuffed the Rams offense and contributed a pick-6. Bishop Sankey and the offensive line were in sync and created chunk yardage runs. Out of all that went right, though, Marcus Mariota’s night shined brightest. Prepare yourselves, Titans fans, because the future is here.

More from Titan Sized

All the rookie jitters that were apparent in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons seemed to be nonexistent a little over a week later. He looked much better in areas that take way more time to improve for young quarterbacks. And the areas that he excelled in are some of the most important for any quarterback, no matter age or experience.

There have been major, yet silly, concerns about Marcus Mariota’s ability to transition from running a spread offense to a pro-style, behind-center offense. If this game was any indication, Mariota is an incredibly quick learner.

For a frame of reference on some of the points I will talk about it, here are his highlights:

His first completion of the night to Kendall Wright is the quintessential play that critics of Marcus Mariota were worried about. Starting behind center, dropping back, running play action, finding the open receiver. He did it flawlessly. The second completion is a perfectly executed play action bootleg. Mariota has to stay on the fake hand off long enough to fool the defense, then has to out speed Aaron Donald and Chris Long in order to get wide enough in his scramble. He does so and unleashes a beautiful, leading touch pass allowing a wide open Craig Stevens to catch it and run without losing momentum.

The third play of the video deserves a paragraph all to itself. Pocket presence and movement are paramount for a quarterback. You can have all the arm talent and speed in the world, but if you can’t move within a cluttered pocket, then you will not be a good quarterback. It is the nature of the position. During his time at Oregon, Marcus Mariota didn’t have to deal with many collapsed pockets, but when he did he tended to escape it and run. On this play, he starts to sense the pressure coming from the right side of the line. He doesn’t start to scramble, instead sliding to an open space on the left side, staying in the pocket. While moving and manipulating the pocket he keeps his eyes downfield, which is so extremely important, and looks through his reads for an open receiver. He finds him, but obviously Dexter McCluster drops the touchdown pass.

The only bad play of the night came on a dropped interception. Mariota felt pressure up the middle and threw off his back foot towards the receiver hugging the sideline. He couldn’t get enough power on the throw due to his being off balance, but thankfully the throw wasn’t picked off.

Regardless of that lone miscue, there is so much to be excited about after that performance by Marcus Mariota. He played very well, and he did so by excelling in areas that are essential for a developing young quarterback to improve in week-to-week. We knew he was an incredible athlete with quarterback skills to develop into a future star. That development is coming along more quickly than anticipated, and that is very promising for everyone.