Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota took the NFL by storm with his remarkable debut in the first game of his career Week 1 2015. That seems like a long time ago – especially with Mariota’s play four games into the 2016 season.
The highlight of 2016 for Mariota so far is easily the game winning drive that he put together for the Titans come-from-behind win Week 2 against the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, however, the story of 2016 for Mariota is his turnovers.
In 2015 the Titans were lacking in the weapons department with a despicable running back-by-committee approach and a very underwhelming receiver corps – hence the reason TE Delanie Walker was the leader in targets, catches, and yards.
So this offseason the Titans acquired weapons through the draft and via free agency: including RB DeMarco Murray, RB Derrick Henry (R), WR Tajae Sharpe (R), WR Rishard Matthews, and WR Andre Johnson.
Last year Mariota did the most with what he had and put together a sound rookie campaign with the exception of injuries due to an offensive line that couldn’t stop a runny nose let alone an opposing NFL’s pass rush.
Mariota had 16 giveaways in 2015 over the course of 12 games with 10 INTs and 6 fumbles. He was a rookie dual-threat QB on a talent depleted team so, overall, I can live with that.
On the flipside, 2016 is not off to a good start and I’m starting to really worry about Mariota’s ball security. Four games into the 2016 season and Mariota has 5 INTs and 2 lost fumbles.
The 5 INTs mark is one more INT than TD passes this season (4) and the 2 lost fumbles doesn’t include the one that the Titans recovered. Sticking with actual giveaways he has 7 which is almost half of what he committed in 2015. If Mariota continues at this pace, which I don’t think he will, he is on track to commit 28 giveaways and that simply cannot happen.
I am by no means necessary writing off or giving up on Mariota. I think he is incredibly talented and will ultimately succeed at playing QB for the Titans.
Mariota is mentally tough, he is a go-getter, leads by example, and has the maturity of a 10 year veteran which are intangibles that a franchise QB needs.
The talent on the Titans around Mariota has vastly improved and Mariota needs to improve on his ball secrurity. DeMarco Murray has been playing like a man possessed to erase the thoughts of his single year campaign with the Philadelphia Eagles last year. Tajae Sharpe is emerging as the Titans go-to receiver.
Andre Johnson and Rishard Matthews add a veteran presence and need to continue to work to get open. Delanie Walker has been battling early season injuries but will get back on track and if Kendall Wright can get going we will continue to make strides.
For now I am going to say that Mariota is adjusting to the various new teammates and coaches around him and avoid stamping SOPHOMORE SLUMP on him, but we shall revisit this discussion in another four weeks to see if progress has been made.
For now the focus shifts on this Sunday’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins.