At this point, Marcus Mariota is fighting for his job as the Tennessee Titans’ starting quarterback, as veteran signal-caller Ryan Tannehill is breathing down his neck and the Titans may be running out of patience.
Tennessee has gotten off to a 1-2 start this season, largely due to its inability to move the football.
Yes, the Titans dropped 43 points on the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, but since then, their offense has been anemic, managing just 24 points over the last two weeks, including a seven-point performance in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.
Now, Tennessee is getting set to battle the Atlanta Falcons on the road this Sunday, and not only do the Titans need to win to save their season, but Mariota may need to play well to save his job.
Let’s be clear here for a minute: Tennessee’s offensive struggles are not all Mariota’s fault. After all, Mariota was sacked a whopping nine times against the Jaguars and has been sacked 17 times overall this season. That is a 91-sack pace for the year.
So, obviously, the offensive line is not doing its job, but seeing as how Mariota has been struggling since 2017, the blame is largely going to fall on his shoulders, especially with his contract up at the end of the season.
But can he turn things around against the Falcons?
Atlanta’s defense has actually been decent thus far this year, as it ranks seventh in yards allowed. The Falcons are giving up 25 points per game, but that has a lot to do with their offense turning the ball over.
What I will say is that Atlanta doesn’t have an elite defense. The Falcons are not the Chicago Bears, so a good quarterback should be able to settle in and get somewhat comfortable against this team.
Atlanta also does not have a very good pass rush, as it has mustered only five sacks this season and totaled 37 all of last year, so Mariota probably won’t be under constant duress like he was against Jacksonville.
As long as Mariota has time to throw, there are no excuses for him. He should be able to make plays. The Titans have decent weapons in Corey Davis, Adam Humphries and A.J. Brown, so it’s not like Mariota is bereft of options.
This is money time for Mariota. If he comes out and lays another egg, Tannehill might be taking over sooner than many of us thought.