This was a hard one because there were two different performances and it was very clear when the tide went south.
Early in the game, the Tennessee Titans passing game looked good. Marcus Mariota was making smart decisions and was converting third downs with his legs and with his arms.
He got the Titans in scoring position twice only to come away with a field goal and a 4th down attempt that was a step short of a touchdown. That and the dropped TD pass from Taywan Taylor are two huge plays that change the way people are looking at Mariota today.
Then Tennessee called and RPO and William Hayes hit Marcus Mariota low and hard. Should it have been a penalty? No, the defensive player is 100% allowed to hit a QB on a play where he could have the ball. If you couldn’t do that there would be no downside to running RPOs and they would be 50% of the play calling in the NFL.
The issue is that Hayes went low intentionally trying to hurt Mariota instead of going to his midsection like Jurrell Casey would do later on a hit. 8 ends up putting his arm down to protect his knees, gets his elbow hit and then loses feeling in his fingers.
After that it was terrible, Mariota threw two picks and Gabbert joined the turnover party as well. Gabbert was fine in relief especially when the throws were clear, short routes that complimented the running game.
Play calling got too smart for its own good and asked Gabbert to do too much, ultimately keeping this team from being able to hang towards the end.