The Tennessee Titans opened up their offseason program today and players returned to St. Thomas Sports Park for the first time in months. There had been rumors that quarterback Marcus Mariota was gaining weight in order to preserve his health as he enters a contract season. Those rumors were confirmed on Monday when Mariota faced the media for the first time since the season ended. The fifth-year quarterback claims that he has added between five and ten pounds. He says that this will help him absorb the hits he will take over a full 16-game season. The best ability is availability and health has been the primary concern with Mariota throughout his career. He has yet to complete a full NFL season in his career. The Titans are hoping that adding weight will help him finally complete that goal and take the team to the next level.
Mariota had been playing between 215-220 pounds over the last few seasons in order to play fast and quick. However, he has struggled with injuries that seem to linger for months both of the last two years. Mariota playing fast is important, but at this point in his career, health is the most important factor. If he can’t make it through the 2019 season, the Titans would struggle to find a reason to invest in the former second-overall pick. His stats haven’t been up to par over the past two seasons, throwing 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He has also missed four starts in the last two seasons and parts of four other games.
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Mariota was playing through injuries to his foot, elbow, neck, and back during last season. No one knows how limited he was by these ailments, so it is hard to judge him purely off of his stats. Now, he only has one season left to prove he can be the franchise quarterback in Nashville. To get a proper evaluation, the Titans need Mariota to stay relatively healthy throughout the entire season. Getting closer to 225 pounds this season will help him stay on the field and show off his abilities.
How will the weight affect his play?
Mariota actually played closer to 225 pounds in the 2016 season. This was his best statistical season with 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He only missed one game that year after a freak leg injury in Week 16. Mariota should still be mobile despite the added weight. Although, offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and head coach Mike Vrabel should adjust the game plan to keep him in the pocket more often. Mariota has proven throughout his career that he is his best when he can sit in the pocket and make his reads. The offense should be designed around that.
Overall, Titans’ fans should be pleased that he has bulked up heading into this season. Mariota deserves his shot to prove that he is the guy and that starts with being available. The Titans are obviously concerned about it as they added Ryan Tannehill to back him up earlier in the offseason. The Mariota-led Titans have gone 9-7 each of the past three seasons, making a playoff appearance once. If he stays healthy, they should be able to take the next step towards becoming a contender. Adding weight can only help that cause.