Reviewing Marcus Mariota's 2016 Season

I wanted to write on an Oregon project and, just like how I did for Brandin Cooks and Oregon State.
I decided to write about Mariota. The 2nd year (going into his third) QB is seen as one of the future elite NFL players, but can he live up to the hype? I also want to give you all a heads up that this is my first ever quarterback article.. Well.. Let's get to it!

Mariota was seen as one of the best college prostects early in his career. Since 2008 the Oregon Ducks were a 10 win a season team with solid yet unspetacular players. That all changed when in 2011 Mariota commited to Oregon, and in 2012 the Freshman QB was already the starter, he was proving everyone that despite being a four star recruit he was bound to be something special. I have to praise the Ducks here because they were the only team to offer Marcus a schoolarship, and in 2014 when Mariota won the Heisman, stories were breaking as to why he didn't get offered schoolarships from bigger colleges and the main reason was the fact that Mariota was Hawaiian, playing HS in Saint Luis (Honolulu) he was overlooked by many colleges despite his (senior year) stats, throwing for 2,597 yards while completing 64.7% of his passes and throwing for 32 TDs-6 Ints, rushing for 455 yards with 7 TDs in 60 attempts shouldn't be overlooked. No matter where the player comes from, if he's good then he'll truly show his talent.

mariota college pass
mariota college rushing
Marcus is part of the new "breed" of quarterbacks, the dual threat guy. He rushed for over 2 thousand yards in just 337 attempts and recorded a total of 29 TDs while still throwing for over 10796 yards,105 TDs (with only 14 interceptions in total). Any team that would pick Mariota knew they had to take advantage of his running ability.
After that 2013 season it's no surprise that next year he managed to lead Oregon to a National Championship final.

mairiota nattyu
Mariota during the National Championship game
Oregon had an almost perfect season, winning every game but for the National Championship. Ohio State would win that game enphatically 41-20. Ezekiel Elliot was the best player in that game and Oregon's defense had no answer. Later on the match when Mariota was trying to lead the Ducks to a comeback he was knocked out of the game for a bit when Joey Bosa hit him hard. He returned but was never the same, his game ended when he was intercepted by Eli Apple on the final play of the game. Coicidence or not all the players I mentioned had a great impact in the NFL already : Zeke was almost OROTY losing it to Dak ; Joey Bosa won DROTY ; Eli Apple contributed to a very solid Giants D and Mariota was leading his Titans to a playoff run.

After that season both Mariota and Winston were seen as the next big thing. They had the talent, the stats to go along with their tape and specially, they were winners, they knew what it took to lead their teams to success. Unfortunately Mariota didn't win it all but he surely made an impression that would make him a very wanted player.

NFL: Tennessee Titans-Press Conference
On April 30th 2015 the Titans selected Marcus Mariota #2 overall. They got their franchise QB without trading up and were set for a good future with a solid foundation.

mariota nfl passing

Mariota's first season was obviously not great, he didn't lead his team to a winning record much less make a playoff push, however that was expected. When the Titans selected Mariota they knew that they had improved on offese but nowhere near enough to challenge Jacksonville or Houston, you can'd do an omulet without eggs, right? Mariota was lacking targets, a running back and ,despite an okay year with 19 TDs and 10 picks, with so many missing pieces he was still not good enough to overcome their defensive woes that would contiue from previous years.
Last season was different though. Maybe because of a better offensive line play, or maybe just because of a first NFL season under his belt. Mariota was trying (and successully) to lead the Titans to the playoffs. 26 TDs, 9 interceptions, 8 wins and 7 losses ( 5 of those losses were by a touchdown or less) Mariota was making strides in Tennesse. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry were helping out in the run game, Walker and and Rishard Matthews were contributing massively in the passing game, all this alongside a good O-Line and the best LT (by PFF) in football, Mariota was finally doing what he did in Oregon, leading his team to victories. Unfortunately for the Titans (and Marcus) his season was cut short when in a 1st and 10 play he got sacked by Sheldon Day, the DE grabbed unto his leg, pushing him into the ground and Mariota fell awkardly, he didn't get up for a while and after a X-Ray they realised his leg got broken, ending the Titans playoff hopes and Mariota's great season.

Looking at Mariota's grades throughout the season, you can see that it's mostly average. We see that Mariota still has very good and terrible games, but we need to put these 6 negative grades (Weeks 1,3,4,7,14,16)  into context :
Week 1 the Titans played the Vikings. The Vikings had the best defense until around week 6, so, on the first game of the year, Mariota struggled massively. According the PFF, Mariota actually did a decent job when he released the ball quick, but whenever he held it for over 2 seconds he completed only 40% of his passes, this is obviously thanks to a great start by the Vikings D, their pass-rush and Xavier Rhodes.
Week 3 the Titans faced off against the Oakland Raiders, I don't really see how this game got a negative rating, because even PFF (the makers of the chart) even gave Mariota a decent rating, given the plays he was in, he completed 9 passes for 170 yards and pulled off two 20 + yards runs.
Week 4 was a loss against the Texans. The Titans only lost by a touchdown, their red zone effeciency was 2-3 and only allowed 1 sack the whole game but unfortunately for Mariota he just didn't have the time to make a key play as the clock had been basically run down by the Texans. I'm a bit unsure why this game got a negative rating.
 Week 7 against the Colts, Mariota found himself under immense pressure, he was forced to drop back 24 times thanks to the Colts pass-rush (PFF stats), he got sacked 3 times. The Colts won the game on a strip sack play. Mariota could have won that game but the strip sack and the pressure was too much for the Titans to overcome.
Week 14 was a win against the Broncos where Mariota struggled massively, the Titans run game bailed him out. Going up VS Von Miller and one of the best secondary in football definitely got under his skin, the QB only completed 6 passes, which is obviously bad, however they won the game, and as a young QB Mariota won't always be the answer.
The last negative game he had was against the Jaguars where he broke his leg. He came off almost in the 4th quarter where the Titans were down 15 points.
Focusing on some positive performances though, Mariota played great against the Jaguars (the first game), the Packers and even the Chiefs, so even though Mariota struggle in some games, he also beat playoff teams (Packers made it to the NFCCG and the Chiefs to the Divisonal Round of the AFC). This kid has got a bright future and alongside some weapons the Titans will be a very dangerous team in 2017.

Lastly, something worth talking about with Mariota is the fact of how quickly he's improved with his deep passing, just this season he was a tad bellow Matt Ryan (best in the league) but had a 68% improvement off last season, and not with great targets, so one can wonder how 2017 will be with Corey Davis. The league average of deep passer rating is 86.6% but Mariota averaged 101.2%. It's clear that the Titans can count on Marcus to make a big play downfield, which is a massive upside in the NFL nowadays, just look at Aaron Rodgers. (Hail Mary God)

The future is also bright for the Titans, not just because of Mariota but also because of players like Henry and first round pick Corey Davis that should provide more help and weapons for Mariota to use. This years ambition for the Titans should be a winning record. A playoff push should also happen and, in my opinion, they'll make it at Jacksonville's expense.

Before I close out the article I also want to mention that the Titans defense has also improved this year by drafting Adoree Jackson and signing free agents like Jonathan Cyprien, Logan Ryan and Brynden Trawkick. To me it's absolutely obvious that the Tennesse Titans are one of the best teams for the future. If they manage to be a stable organisation with good coaching and good players they can become a perennial superbowl team in 5 years or so, led by Mariota, the Oregon prospect.

You can follow me on twitter @Peter1678 and don’t forget to also follow @SeattleSportCo and @TablerDotCom


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