Marcus Mariota Looks Like he’s Getting There


Aug 23, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) passes against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Mariota has been the one to watch every since he was taken No. 2 overall by the Tennessee Titans in May. He is the latest of the spread option quarterbacks in college to try to make the adjustment to playing quarterback in the NFL. And I was among his critics, believing he could do it but that it would take a couple of years.

Sure, he’s a great athlete with good arm talent but the way they play quarterback in the NFL is different. In the NFL, you have to throw with timing and anticipation, scan the entire field, and throw into tight windows. You also have to read blitzes and change protections while Mariota was not required to do any of that in college.

For goodness sakes, he’s never even called a play in the huddle before going to the Titans. Then there are the important little things like the footwork of dropping back after taking the ball from under center. Mariota never played with any footwork out of the shotgun of the spread offense he played in at Oregon.

So when he was picked in May, to me there was no way he could adjust all that by September. And we haven’t even talked about adjusting to the speed of the game and all the players in it yet. And let’s not forget that Mariota had problems with pocket presence when he was at Oregon.

So when the Titans played the Atlanta Falcons in the preseason opener I wasn’t surprised he struggled. The interception was no big deal because rookies do that but the fumble was because it exposed his lack of pocket presence. Then in the second preseason game against the St. Louis Rams, Mariota improved majorly.

Everyone talks about a quarterback’s jump from year one to two but Mariota made his from preseason game one to two. He showed excellent pocket presence in that game, particularly on the play where he stepped up the in pocket and threw a dime for a touchdown. The only problem there was receiver Dexter McCluster dropped it so it wasn’t an actual touchdown.

He also impressed me with his ability the throw the ball accurately while on the run. Now, I’m concerned about what he does with the blitz when he has to make quick decisions and hot-reads. That part is going to take a while as that part takes every quarterback a while to get that down.

The biggest thing is making Mariota constistent but he is getting there.

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