Tennessee Titans: Why Marcus Mariota could hinder Adam Humphries
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries could have a down year in 2019.
Perhaps by no fault of his own, wide receiver Adam Humphries could have a down year in his first season with the Tennessee Titans.
There are a few reasons for this, but chief among them is the fact that quarterback Marcus Mariota does not have a lot of success throwing to slot receivers.
As was noted by Scott Barrett of Pro Football Focus, Mariota’s quarterback rating when throwing to the slot is worse than when he throws to any other position on the field.
"Although Mariota hasn’t been very effective when targeting tight ends (eighth-worst) or outside wide receivers (eighth-worst), he’s been especially bad when targeting slot wide receivers (worst). This could be related to poor roster talent at the position, or it could be bad news for Tennessee’s new slot wide receiver Adam Humphries. I’d bet Humphries hadn’t looked at this chart before forsaking Tom Brady (fifth-best) and New England’s more lucrative offer to play in Tennessee."
When throwing to the slot, Mariota’s rating is 81.7. To compare, his passer rating is 88.7 when throwing to outside receivers, 103.1 when throwing to tight ends, and 104.5 when throwing to running backs.
The good news for Humphries is that it could be connected to Mariota not having a lot of talent in the slot in years past, which is something Barrett points out. If we’re looking for a silver lining, that’s it.
Combined with Mariota’s historically poor rating when throwing to the slot, Humphries will have a lot of competition for targets in a run-first offense. The return of tight end Delanie Walker could affect Humphries’ looks up the middle, and he’ll also have wideouts Corey Davis and A.J. Brown commanding targets on the outside.
Humphries had his best year as a pro in 2018, catching 76 balls for 816 yards and five touchdowns. He was also part of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense that was very pass-heavy.
It was already reasonable to assume he wouldn’t match that production in 2019 in a new offense, but his success could be hindered even further if Mariota doesn’t improve his numbers throwing to the slot.
That’s why nobody should freak out if Humphries doesn’t have the season we’d expect out of him. There are several factors at play here, most of which are simply out of his control.
One thing’s for certain: if there’s any slot receiver who can help Mariota break this trend, it’s a talent like Humphries.