As each day passes of Marcus Mariota‘s new professional career with the Tennessee Titans and we near the kick-off of football season, questions arise that only Mariota will be able to answer on the field.
The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt wrote an article about a few things for fans to get excited about in Mariota’s rookie year, what concerns to look out for and what questions are being asked leading up to game time. The Titans Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt wasted no time in announcing that Mariota would be starting in the season opener against the Buccaneers. Wyatt writes, “It’s safe to say the pick probably will determine the direction of the franchise for years to come. Coming off a 2-14 season, will the draft day decision jump-start the Titans into contention? Or will it prove to be a move fans and media forever will criticize?”
As previously said, Mariota will have to answers those questions on the field. As far as excitement for the Titans organization goes, picking Mariota has brought them attention and money that they haven’t seen in a long time. Wyatt reports that ticket and merchandise sales went up and the vibe in Nashville has changed noticeably since Draft Day.
“Mariota put up ridiculous numbers in college — 105 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions. He was a threat running the football, and his presence regularly put a strain on defenses.” Wyatt goes on to explain that Coach Whisenhunt is going to have his work cut-out for him adjusting his offense to benefit the team based on Mariota’s strengths. He also said that it has been said that Mariota is similar to a bigger version of himself in Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who has been very successful in his career. If Mariota turns out to be what analysts and fans everywhere think he can be, he’s gonna make his mark in the NFL just as he did throughout his career at Oregon.
Another positive for the Titans is that Mariota has the ability to get his teammates going. With the Titans not being successful or necessarily relevant for a few seasons, they need someone like Mariota to jump in, stir things up and get everyone going. One of the biggest critiques for Mariota throughout his career has been that he’s “too quiet”, but a hushed-up QB doesn’t take his team to the National Championship game or go No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Even Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich acknowledged that Mariota was a quiet kid when he first got to Oregon but over the past 4 seasons he developed into an incredible leader on and off the field.
Aside from being criticized for his vocalness, Mariota has also been poked and prodded at when it comes to his personality and being “too nice”. Because of this assumption, it’s been going around that the rookie won’t last in the NFL with the big boys and that he’ll flop. On top of that, Mariota learning to run a spread offense is a concerning factor in the young athletes success. Wyatt writes, “Mariota comes with no guarantees. More than a few scouts have questioned whether he’ll be able to adjust to the NFL after playing in the spread offense in college. And plenty of college stars bombed in the pros. Robert Griffin III is at a crossroads with the Redskins, and everyone in Nashville remembers how Young flamed out.”
It is true that many college stars haven’t led a successful professional career too but the NFL just might not be for everybody. Mariota is unfathomably athletic, smart and has natural abilities on the field that a lot of players don’t possess; the chances of him taking everything he knows and focusing it to form into the player he needs to be for the Titans and being successful are far greater than him “flopping”. There is a lot of pressure on him now that he’s supposed to be the face of the franchise and turn the entire organization around but if anyone can handle turning something around for the better, it’s Marcus Mariota. More positive will come out of his professional career than negative, without a doubt.
Although Whisenhunt has already made the announcement that Mariota will be starting, the Titans still possess another QB in Zach Mettenberger. Wyatt reports, “Players in the NFL don’t like handouts, though. Judging from the reaction — and words — of some Titans in recent days, players have a healthy respect for Zach Mettenberger. On top of that, players don’t want a guy anointed a starter until he earns it. They expect to see Mariota and Mettenberger compete for the starting job.” With that news the question arises, what if Mettenberger beats Mariota out for the starting QB position? That could cause some controversy.
With every pick in the NFL Draft there are questions lying close behind about the decision to go with the player a team did. When it comes to picks as high and talented as Mariota, the questions, criticism and controversy will probably never stop. If he finds success, those problems will minimize but you can’t please everyone and people love to throw rocks at those finding more success. The Titans passed on a lot of opportunities for other highly talented players at different positions and decided to snag a leader to turn things around rather than a few players here and there to rebuild. With a talent such as Mariota in their possession, the Titans have the potential to rebuild with what they’ve already got around their possible star QB and find success again.
To read Wyatt’s full article, click here.
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