4-Year Analysis/Year 5 Expectations
I have historically been someone who defends Marcus Mariota. He was awesome the first two years of his career. These last two, however, have been as inconsistent and injury prone as you could possibly imagine.
To counter that point, Mariota hasn’t exactly been put in the best position to succeed throughout his career, either. The inconsistencies start from the top. During Mariota’s five-year career, he’s had three head coaches and a revolving door at the offensive coordinator position.
However, new Titans offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, was promoted in large part due to his continuity with Mariota. Smith has seen what Mariota excels at, as well as what he struggles with. And, most importantly, Mariota won’t have to learn an entire new offense under Smith.
The Titans improved the overall talent on the offense this offseason by signing left guard, Rodger Saffold, and slot Receiver, Adam Humphries.
The Titans need to get back to the dominant O-line play of 2016. It is not a coincidence that the offense had their best year as a whole the one year that they had a top five offensive line. Protecting Mariota must be the main objective of 2019, and lining up a former All-Pro like Saffold next to three-time pro bowler, left tackle Taylor Lewan, definitely helps with that.
Adding a shifty receiver like Humphries is going to be worth every single penny of his $36 million contract as well. The addition of Humphries, along with the return of Walker, should allow the Titans to attack the middle of the field with a lot more ease than previous years.
The Titans also added A.J. Brown, a wide receiver from Ole Miss who has enormous upside.
This Titans team has a complete offense on paper, to go along with an elite defense. You could make a real argument that this is the most weapons any Titans team has ever had on both sides of the ball.
With all that being said, it is now or never for Mariota. He is finally in a similar modern offense for consecutive years, he has an elite defense, a great running game, and numerous weapons to throw to.
His first two individual seasons were extremely solid, his last two were not. Year five will be the tie-breaker for the Oregon product. This is the year that the excuses must stop, and Mariota must take that next step, or I’m afraid it may never happen for him in Tennessee.
I wouldn’t bet against Mariota having a career year with all this new help, though. If Mariota remains healthy with the new pieces around him, 2019 has the potential to be something special.
Unfortunately, that’s a bigger “if” than all of us would like. But, if there’s anyone I would not bet against, it’s a healthy Marcus Ardel Taulauniu Mariota.