Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota shows his worth in absence


Marcus Mariota stood on the sidelines and watched his Tennessee Titans fall to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, extending their losing streak to five games.

The defense turned in one of their best performances of the Ken Whisenhunt era, holding the high-powered Falcons offense to a season low 10 points…twenty below their average. The defense made several huge second half stops, and put Tennessee in position to win on the final drive.

The run game (when used) was extremely effective. Antonio Andrews barrelled through the league’s number one run defense, averaging nearly six yards an attempt. Dexter McCluster averaged just under seven yards every time he touched the ball. He also chipped in six receptions, and a key blitz pick up on the final drive.

Wide receiver Kendall Wright and tight end Delanie Walker were on their game, combining for 11 catches and a touchdown.

The much maligned offensive line only gave up one sack, and pretty much dominated the line of scrimmage when the Titans elected to run downhill.

But at quarterback…

With the supporting cast pitching a perfect game, backup qb Zach Mettenberger could only muster seven points on offense. It was Tennessee’s lowest output since last December, a 36-7 loss to the Giants.

Mettenberger’s last start of the 2014 season.

Against the Falcons, his redzone interception to close the first half cost Tennessee a shot at a field goal. His botched snap late in the fourth quarter cost the Titans a chance to get into field goal range, and his ill-advised interception on the final offensive possession sealed the team’s fate.

Tennessee was already across midfield with plenty of time left when Mettenberger threw the pick.

For all of the cannon arm talk, bravado, and moxy, Zach Mettenberger is still 0-8 as an NFL starting quarterback. And number eight is completely on him. Not exactly the impression you want to make if you feel that you should be the starter.

On the other hand, one can only imagine how a healthy Mariota would have fared given the same performance from his supporting cast.

The last time that everything came together like that and Mariota was under center, the Titans were stomping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener.

Zach Mettenberger, at this stage of his career, is a backup NFL quarterback…regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game in Houston if he were to start.

Marcus Mariota was regressing a bit prior to having to sit out last week. The sum total of defenses studying film on him, and the accumulative hits that come with being one of the most sacked qb’s in the league so far.

Fans may have started taking Mariota for granted when the losses started piling up. Sunday was a reminder of what 2014 was like, and why there’s hope for the future with him under center now.

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