Mariota's Star Turn
By Patrick Stewart (@stewartfzn)
The Titans defeated the Green Bay Packers at home on Sunday by a score of 47-25, a win that ranks up some of their best of the last 5 years. Tennessee simply dominated in all facets of the game, and it never felt like it was remotely close. The defense did a nice job of shutting down the Packers run game and forced Green Bay to pass the ball on nearly every down, which even with an Aaron Rodgers-led offense is never a recipe for success in the NFL. My biggest takeaway from the game, though, was the improved play of the most important player on the team, quarterback Marcus Mariota.
We have seen signs over the course of the season of the player Mariota could become. In week 2 against Detroit he seemed to will the Titans down the field to a win in the closing seconds. Against the Dolphins in week 5 he made the defense look like it was standing still. Still, like any young signal-caller, he has had his ups and downs. His miscues in all five of the Titans losses directly led to the negative outcomes of those games. His mistakes tend to be big ones and they seem to happen in the tight moments of the game.
But when he is on, which is way more often than not this season, he looks special. On Sunday, in a game that was crucial for both of these teams, Mariota was nearly flawless. He led the Titans to touchdowns on their first five possessions of the game, an unbelievable way to start the game that put the Packers in a hole that was impossible for them to dig out of. His athleticism, pinpoint accuracy, and loyalty to the playbook of Mike Mularkey allowed Mariota to surgically dismantle Green Bay. (Side note: Remember when we were all worried about Mularkey and OC Terry Robiskie ruining Marcus? The opposite has happened. They have designed an offense perfectly suited to his abilities.) He had another 4-touchdown game, a historical stat in that no player in league history has had more in their first 22 games.
Sure, it is easier for Mariota to play well with one of the league's top offensive lines and rushing attacks to fall back on. But Mariota has been golden at times this year and leads many across the league to believe that Tennessee has found a golden ticket at the crucial quarterback position.
Marcus Mariota is a big-league quarterback. Tennessee’s set at QB for a long time.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) November 13, 2016
It's starting to feel like Marcus Mariota is making a star turn in the back half of the season, simply playing better earlier in his career we could have imagined. Many (myself included) thought the Titans were a year away from playoff contention because of the youth of the roster. A Mariota-led Titans team is starting to give all of us a chance to dream a year early.