When they drafted Mariota, the Titans found their franchise quarterback. That ended the search going on since the late great Steve McNair! Mariota is a versatile quarterback who is very humble and a pro in every aspect. He has not been provided with any type of consistency when it comes to coaching staff. He will be working under his third different offensive coordinator since entering the NFL in 2015. Under LaFleur, the former number two overall draft pick behind Jameis Winston should flourish. The Titans organization and fans hope that there will be consistency for many years to come. Provided by head coach Mike Vrabel and offensive coordinator Matt Lefleur!
Drafted second overall in 2015, Mariota had an impressive rookie season in an offense that lacked talent all around. He played twelve games in 2015, missing weeks seven and week eight with a sprained MCL. He was not 100% and eventually ended his rookie season early by spraining his MCL again week fourteen. Even missing four games in an offense that lacked talent he produced a 62.2% completion percentage. That went along with 252 rushing yards, 2,818 total yards passing averaging 7.6 yards per pass. Nineteen touchdowns along with ten interceptions with an overall QB rating of 91.5 to end his rookie season.
If you look at what he had to work with the 2015 season those numbers are impressive. Let’s compare his rookie stats to those of Dereck Carr, another up and coming QB drafted a year earlier. Carr put up 3,270 yards with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and finished with a 76.6 QB rating his rookie season in 2014 playing all 16 games. Mariota came into this league and made an instant impact for the Titans, to say the least about his rookie year.
Sophomore year success
Mariota’s sophomore year is his best to date so far! In 2016 Mariota under at the time new head coach and former interim head coach Mike Mularkey played 15 games putting up 349 yards rushing, 3,426 yards passing to go with the 26 TD passes and 9 interceptions with a 61.2% completion percentage. His QB rating at the end of the season of 95.6! During the 2016 season, Carson Wentz threw for 3,782 yards passing with a 62.4% completion percentage and 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions ending that season with a 79.3 overall QB rating. Again Mariotas numbers compare favorably with a quarterback who just last year put up very impressive numbers. Mariota still does not get the credit or recognition that these other quarterbacks get.
The struggle was real
Mariota did go through a junior year slump. The Titans still made it all the way to the divisional round of the playoffs against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots! Mariota had a 62% completion rating with 3,232 passing yards. He had more interceptions than touchdowns last year with 13 TD’s and 15 Interceptions ending the season with an overall QB rating of 79.3. What changed?
The 2017 season they were working on making Mariota more of a pocket passer the first half of the season. That is not natural to Mariota but something he is working on to improve his game. The first half of last season you can tell it was a work in progress. He did manage to dramatically cut down his fumbles his junior season. In 2015 he had ten fumbles, 2016 season he had nine and the 2017 season he only had two. That’s helped Mariota in the red zone where he has a very high scoring percentage.
What to expect from Mariota in 2018
With the Talent around him coming into the 2018 season, along with the Matt Lefleur upgrade from a very conservative, predictable run hungry Terry Robiskie offense. You can expect Mariota to have his running backs more involved in the passing game. This will be a huge improvement from last years Titans offense. A lot of passing plays out of the backfield with Dion Lewis and possibly Akrum Wadley who will be Mariota’s go-to guys. Add that to Corey Davis and Delanie Walker in the passing game this year spreading opponents defenses for the Titans! Derek Henry will be the bruiser to break down the defense and open up the passing lanes for Mariota.
My prediction for his fourth year is 63.3% completion percentage, 4200 yards passing with 32 TD’s and 9 Interceptions. The Titans quarterback should add another 275 yards on the ground. He finishes with a QB rating of 93.7 and leads the Titans into the playoffs again!