Marcus Mariota is off to a promising start
Marcus Mariota played his second preseason game for the Titans on Sunday, and saw two offensive drives of action before being bundled back into cotton wool on the sidelines.
Over that span he completed five of eight passes for 59 yards against the Rams’ defense. His stat line should have been capped by a touchdown on the second drive, but Dexter McCluster dropped a pass in the end zone that should have been caught.
What we saw, however, was encouraging both for Tennessee and Mariota fans. The offense was centered on the run game, and second-year running back Bishop Sankey was doing significant damage with the first-team offense to set Mariota up in favorable positions. Sankey had six carries for 45 yards (7.5 yards per carry), and that maximized the effectiveness of the play-action and movement that the Titans want to run with Mariota under center.
While limited to some degree, this was what a typical Mariota game should look like. He was efficient and careful with the football, but was aided by the offense giving him a strong foundation to work from.
Perhaps the most encouraging play, ironically, was an incomplete pass – the aforementioned McCluster drop mentioned earlier that should have resulted in a touchdown. On 3rd and 7 from the shotgun (no help from the run game or play-action here), Mariota worked through his progression in the red zone while calmly sliding in the pocket away from developing pressure, before finding his check-down option at the front of the end zone. This was a play you want your first-round rookie quarterback to be able to make. Mariota did, but wasn’t rewarded for it. Maybe he will be in the regular season.