Zach Mettenberger brings consistency to Titans' QB role
After sitting out of practice all week with a left knee injury, Marcus Mariota has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Following his four-touchdown debut, Mariota has had an up and down season, grading as low as -6.1 against the Browns, and high as +3.4 against the Colts a week later.
Zach Mettenberger will be inserted as the starter this week against the Falcons. Although this may seem like a major hit to the Titans’ chances against a 5-1 team, Mettenberger should bring a steadying presence to the QB position that Mariota has not found early into his rookie season. After the Titans’ Week 9 bye last year, Mettenberger graded out no higher than +2.1, and no lower than -1.8, through Week 14, before injuring his shoulder and missing the last three games.
Although Mettenberger showed that he is slightly less accurate over those four weeks than Mariota has been this season, he was more dynamic in the deep passing game than Mariota has been in 2015. With a very close sample size of pass attempts, Mettenberger threw for three touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 50 percent of his passes over 20 yards in 2014, while Mariota has only completed 14.3 of those passes this season, with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Mettenberger surprisingly outshone Mariota in play-action, as well, posting a 127.9 QB rating in play action passes, ranking third among NFL quarterbacks those weeks. Mariota has been average in that category this season, with a 97.3 QB rating, ranking 18th out of 36 quarterbacks.
While Mettenberger is not the Titans’ first option at QB, he doesn’t make Tennessee worse at the QB position this early into Mariota’s career. Mettenberger brings a more stable passing game that Mariota has yet to show, and can actually be more dynamic in some areas—such as play action and in the deep passing game—which could help the Titans to steal one at home against the Falcons.