Metrics that Matter: Mariota can’t be THIS good in the red zone

Tennessee's quarterback has been historically efficient in red-zone and end-zone scenarios. Scott Barrett explores that that means.

| 2 weeks ago
(Andy Lyons, Getty Images)

(Andy Lyons, Getty Images)

Metrics that Matter: Mariota can’t be THIS good in the red zone


(“Metrics that Matter” is a short feature that appears every weekday, highlighting a notable fantasy lesson to be learned from PFF’s advanced stats.)

Hello and welcome to the second-ever installment of Metrics that Matter. Each weekday we’ll look at an intriguing metric or chart developed through PFF-exclusive statistics. This week, our focus is on quarterbacks. Wednesday, we went over Ryan Tannehill and how different his stats look when operating from a clean pocket as opposed to when he is pressured. Today we’ll look at Marcus Mariota and his impressive efficiency when passing near or into the end zone.

Throughout his career, when in the red zone, Mariota has completed 60 of his 94 (64 percent) pass attempts with 33 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Among all 52 quarterbacks with more than 10 red-zone pass attempts over this stretch, Mariota ranks fourth in completion percentage, first in touchdown percentage, and first in interception percentage.

Throughout his career, when targeting a receiver in the end zone, Mariota has completed 26 of his 44 (59 percent) pass attempts with 26 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Among all 47 quarterbacks with more than 10 end-zone pass attempts over this stretch, Mariota ranks first in completion percentage, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage.

What does this mean?

Either Mariota is a generational quarterback when it comes to red-zone and end-zone efficiency, or he’s due for some serious regression.

Among all quarterbacks over the past 10 seasons with at least 150 such pass attempts to qualify, the leader in completion percentage both red-zone (65 percent) and end-zone (52 percent) pass attempts is Kurt Warner. Over this span, the leader in red-zone touchdown-to-interception ratio is Aaron Rodgers (221:9). The leader in end-zone touchdown-to-interception ratio is Peyton Manning (148:8).

Given the fact that we’re dealing with such a small sample of pass attempts with Mariota, it’s most likely that he’s not the next Warner, Rodgers, or Manning. Still, the fact that he’s been so efficient when it’s mattered most (in or near the end zone) can only be taken as a positive for his future development.

As for what this means to us as fantasy owners, I’m having trouble coming up with a final takeaway. Rishard Matthews was Mariota’s favorite and most efficient receiver in both categories last season, converting 6 of 9 of both such targets into touchdowns. I think everything we’ve uncovered here bodes well for first-round draft pick Corey Davis. Davis led all college wide receivers in touchdowns (19) and ranked top-five in touchdown market share while at Western Michigan last year. He had 12 (11th-best) and 15 (third) touchdowns the two previous seasons.



Scott Barrett is our Senior Fantasy Analyst and one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

  • Hekthore Warro

    If Titans don’t make the playoffs after adding those players then Mularkey and whole must leave asap before season’s end. They have players who can produce Pro Bowl stats both offense and defense but seems like Mularkey has no idea how to guide them.

    • 8OB

      Over reaction in 3-2-1.

    • Michael Elrod

      You’re talking about Mularkey who, in his first full year as head coach, took a team that was previously 6-10, 2-14, and 3-13 to a 9-7 record and you’re calling for his head? And what about our *5* pro bowl players last year to compare, what, maybe 2 the year before? And we would have had 6 if Mariota wasn’t injured. Seems like he can bring along Pro bowlers just fine to me…..

    • chrome nomad

      Mularkey is a good HC. He has gotten better since his last stints in Buffalo and Jacksonville, teams that didn’t have half the talent Tennessee has right now (Blaine Gabbert and J.P freaking Losman were the starting QB’s). A smart fan would be happy with Mike. The addition of Russ Grimm did wonders for the o-line and I was thrilled we kept the legend Dick LeBeau at DC. We still might need to upgrade the defense but this is a team that keeps improving into a championship caliber unit. People must realize that starting from scratch with a new coaching staff isn’t always a good thing.

  • Giannis

    Its no fluke..It took him 4 months untill he threw his first int in camp (week 4 of preseason) almost every single int he’s thrown is with Titans down by at least 10. He has no real offnsive playcalling support and plays in a system with no potential for a passer to develop. The guy is a generational player, imo the very best QB prospect ever and he wlli be the top QB in the league no questions asked by 2019. Just watch

    • chrome nomad

      I don’t know about top QB in the league but definitely top 5-10 especially since they added Davis and Taylor. The dude keeps getting better and his quick release and decision making makes it tough to defend him in the red zone. I do agree Mariota is a generational talent. Same goes for Winston ( who is 30+TDs and one pick in the RedZone). Tampa Bay and Tennessee hit the jackpot in 2015 big time.

  • Joe Agresti

    How many throw aways did he have in the red zone? How many times has he tucked and run when he didn’t have options? His speed and ability to get away from defenders to throw the ball away could be a reason for this. Just a theory.