Where do you even start? I guess this grade goes back to two weeks ago when Marcus Mariota got hurt.
After playing well pre-injury, Mariota got hurt and threw two picks because he couldn’t feel his hand. While he insisted on trying to stay in, cooler heads prevailed and Gabbert was given the start.
This carried into next week where it looked like a smart decision. There was no pressure on Mariota to go out right after the injury and try to play with a bad arm.
Fast forwards past that and all week it seemed like Mariota was taking more and more reps and doing more in practice. While Gabbert got more reps, it looked like a healthy MM8 would pop up just in time for a crucial game in the AFC South.
Well, the night before Adam Schefter reported that the intention was for Marcus Mariota to be active, but for Blaine Gabbert to start as Ocho was just no quite 100% yet.
So we all thought, alright. Can the Titans squeak one more out with Gabbert? In just a quarter we found out that we wouldn’t get to find out when an illegal hit took the backup out.
That forced Marcus Mariota to come in as the team’s only backup QB. What happened next is something you had to see to truly appreciate.
On the road, against a 2-0 team that everyone was anointing as the top team in the NFL the Titans wore out the Jaguars. I don’t mean that they stomped Jacksonville, but they took a team that believes themselves to be the bullies in every fight and pushed them around.
The whole offense had to be paired down because the Titans didn’t want to put themselves in a situation where Mariota had to throw a deep pass. Even still, they found ways to give him easy throws which he completed beautifully or he found space in a defense that everyone believes to be suffocating.
It seemed like every completion was a big one and every run took to wind out of the sails of the Jacksonville defense.
Two weeks of working in the background and paying attention in meetings where he didn’t think he was going to start paid off. Mariota’s grit, hard work, athleticism, and leadership all came together in a game that everyone assumed would be a blowout for Jacksonville.
Mariota is a franchise QB, and you can point to your stats all you want, but he may be the one QB in recent memory for me where no matter what numbers he puts up I really believe he will do everything in his power to help his team win.