So, the Tennessee Titans lost a tough one at home this week, but it was the first time in four years that the team has looked truly competitive with the Indianapolis Colts. On defense, players knew there responsibilities and outside of two fluke plays, they held the Colts to just 14 points.
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On offense, several players stepped up and the running game looked like it could dominate in spurts.
However, no matter how hard you look at the tape, there is one player that is keeping the Tennessee Titans in the games and one player that just makes everyone else look better: Marcus Mariota.
Let’s start with the basics. Mariota’s performance aside, his pace and calmness allowed the offense to operate very efficiently. Even when two drives were stalled by dropped passes, he never looked phased despite being in a 14-0 hole. He and the offense moved down and quickly put the team back in the game which forced Andrew Luck and the Colts to pass more. Those passes turned into incompletions, sacks and interceptions all of which showed why these defense isn’t out of place.
While the team ultimately lost, Mariota had a career day passing the ball and it is time to look at some stats and projections of just how good he has looked.
-Marcus Mariota is tied for the league lead in pass plays that go longer than 20 yards through the air. He is tied with Joe Flacco who is known for having a rocket arm, and Carson Palmer who is having an amazing year so far. All of the talking heads that say he isn’t passing it deep are wrong (or aren’t watching). Even when he isn’t heaving the ball deep his accuracy and ball placement allow receivers to get yards after the fact to manufacture big plays.
-He is on pace to throw for 4,443 yards, 43 TDs, and 11 INTs. That second number will drop to 5-7 if the Delanie Walker fumble is ruled correctly by the NFL this week. Those passing numbers would make Mariota the 6th leading passer in yards and he would lead the league in touchdown passes.
-His 8.59 YPA are 6th best in the league despite playing against All-Pro corners like Joe Haden and Vontae Davis.
-Mariota is currently the 8th leading passer (by yards) in the NFL, Jameis Winston is tied for 21st despite throwing just seven fewer passes.
-It is hard to imagine any rookie having a better argument for Rookie of the Year honors, and the only one close to contention would have to be Amari Cooper.
The future is bright for the Tennessee Titans and Marcus Mariota, and if this team keeps drafting like it has the past two years then this team could be a contender in the immediate future, if not this year.