Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota fared better than I thought he would in Pro Football Focus’ quarterback rankings.
When I saw that Pro Football Focus was releasing its quarterback rankings after the first three weeks of the season, I fully expected to see Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota at the very bottom.
Instead, Mariota was a bit higher than I thought he would be.
According to Pro Football Focus’ list done by Steve Palazzolo, Mariota is ranked No. 18 out of 26 quarterbacks who qualified.
Granted, that ranking is certainly nothing to write home about, but is still better than quarterbacks like the Indianapolis Colts’ Jacoby Brissett (No. 19) and the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins (No. 25).
"Accuracy and pocket presence have been an issue for Mariota in the early going, as he’s thrown the fifth-highest percentage of uncatchable passes on throws beyond the line of scrimmage, and he’s been sacked on 39.5% of his pressured dropbacks, by far the highest rate in the league. The sack rate has been a trend for Mariota, so he must do a better job of getting the ball out of his hand. Overall, Mariota has the No. 22 passing grade in the league, at 58.3, but the No. 4 rushing grade at 75.4."
Other notable quarterbacks Mariota beat out were former 2015 draft class mate and No. 1 overall pick that year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal-caller Jameis Winston (No. 23), and this year’s No. 1 pick, Arizona Cardinals quarterback, Kyler Murray.
Per PFF, Mariota owns the 22nd-ranked passing grade among QBs, but is helped by his elite rushing grade of 75.4.
Now, Mariota has had his fair share of issues this season, such as not seeing open receivers, holding on to the ball too long and flat out inaccuracy on throws that should be completed with ease.
However, he’s also dealing with historically bad blocking, as the Titans have allowed 17 sacks through three weeks, the most a single quarterback has taken since 2002. When he isn’t getting sacked, Mariota is under constant pressure and has been hit an astounding 25 times.
A lot of that has to do with his poor offensive line, but he also needs to speed up his internal clock when in the pocket. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith can help in that regard by drawing up plays that get the ball out of Mariota’s hands quicker.
Even that approach is hard to get married to, though. The Titans desperately need to take more shots down the field to keep defenses honest, which is also hard to do considering Mariota might get killed trying to wait for things to develop on such plays.
Spacing has been an issue as well. Too many times this season I’ve seen Titans receivers getting bunched up in the same parts of the field, and that is problematic for any quarterback. It also doesn’t help that Mariota is having multiple passes dropped on a weekly basis, whether it’s by the receivers or the running backs.
Does all of that sound like a mess? Of course it does, but that’s just the reality of the situation Mariota and the Titans are dealing with right now. And it’s a mess that could ruin this team’s season if it doesn’t get figured out quick.