I was listening to Mike & Mike in the Morning today, and was caught by surprise…something positive was being said about the Tennessee Titans…on one of the biggest national sports radio shows in the country.
Greenberg and Golic were discussing Cam Newton, and his rare blend of running and passing skills. They talked about the evolution of the qb position (from drop back passer to dual threat weapon), and went through every NFL franchise to see which team had a qb that could eventually join Cam on his level.
They both agreed that Titans qb Marcus Mariota fit the bill.
High praise, but in order for him to take his game to Newton’s level, the Titans will have to remove the protective bubble, and allow Mariota to run more in 2016.
It will also increase the team’s chances for success.
More from Titan Sized
- Tennessee Titans suspiciously quiet about major draft need
- Tennessee Titans agree to new deal with star Jeffery Simmons
- Caesars Promo Code Expires Soon – Claim $1,250 Today
- 3 needs that are being overblown by Tennessee Titans fans
- Tennessee Titans have potential dilemmas in 2023 NFL Draft
While the NFL has rapidly become a passing league, it appears that the passers themselves are running the ball more than ever…and with great effectiveness.
Of the six quarterbacks to win a playoff game this postseason, four of them finished in the top five in qb rushing yards this season (Cam Newton – 1st, Russell Wilson – 3rd, Alex Smith – 4th, Aaron Rodgers – 5th).
The added dimension to their game holds value, and Mariota possesses that dimension.
“But wait, running Mariota more would leave him susceptible to more injuries”….
Theoretically, that is true. The more the qb has the ball in his hands, the more apt his is to being hit. But Newton, Wilson, Smith, and Rogers started all 16 games this season…and seemed no worse for wear when we saw them take the field for the playoffs.
They are all smart runners, they all seem to avoid the big hit. Even Newton, who can barrel over defenders if he so chooses.
And besides, the two injuries that Mariota sustained this year resulted from hits inside the pocket. In hindsight, we’d all rather that he took off in both cases.
But I digress.
When Ken Whisenhunt was running the offense early in the season, he went out of his way to not run Mariota. When Mike Mularkey took over the offense in November, he was given strict instruction to protect the face of the franchise at all cost.
He certainly wasn’t drawing up any naked bootleg qb keepers, he was a temp trying to go permanent.
And with all that said, Tennessee still gave up the most sacks in the league this season. Maritoa and Zach Mettenberger still took a pounding.
The upcoming season should be different. New general manager Jon Robinson will undoubtedly upgrade the offensive line this offseason, in addition to adding a running back and help on the outside.
With few designed called runs, and a month of football missed due to injury, Marcus Mariota still finished in the top ten in qb rushing yards this season (9th).
Behind a new, and hopefully improved offensive line, Mariota should be unleashed in 2016. He’s shown in college that he is a smart runner, and the added dimension is something that the Titans’ offense desperately needs.
I am not suggesting that coach Mularkey installs the Oregon offense this spring, I am saying that teams with dual threat qb’s are succeeding with increased regularity now, and the Titans have one sitting right under their noses.
Mariota threw for 19 touchdown passes in 12 starts this season. He did it with a shaky offensive line and one reliable target (pro bowl tight end Delanie Walker). He’s proven that he can succeed at the professional level from inside the pocket.
Once his legs join the party, then the sky is the limit for Mariota, and the Titans.