Coming into the season, it had been labeled a make-or-break year for Tennessee Titans fifth-year quarterback Marcus Mariota. So far this season, Mariota has looked solid, not impressive but not terrible.
While the young signal-caller hasn’t wowed anyone with his arm, he has yet to turn the ball over, which is a big improvement from the past four seasons that saw him intercepted 42 times. Week 6’s matchup against the Denver Broncos poses to be an opportunity for Mariota to continue his solid start as the Titans look to even up their record at 3-3.
Mariota will not be able to use his feet this week, as Denver is the league’s best at stuffing the quarterback run. In fact, opposing quarterbacks have only attempted to run on the Broncos six times the entire season. Mariota will have to rely on his arm to get it done.
Denver’s pass defense is solid and coming off a game in which they held Philip Rivers to 211 yards while picking him off twice. In order for Mariota to get some open opportunities, he will have to utilize his running game. The Broncos’ defensive weakness is stopping the run so Mariota will have to feed Derrick Henry the ball to open up his receivers in the play action.
We cannot undersell the Titans position here as they are currently sitting in last place in the AFC South, but are only one game behind first. With no team having made their mark on the division yet, Tennessee must take advantage of a 1-4 Denver team.
Mariota is poised to find Corey Davis and A.J. Brown Sunday as the Titans must take shots downfield in order to break this tough secondary. Having four Denver defensive backs on the injury report and two listed as questionable, Mariota will expose their banged-up secondary.
Expect tight end, Delanie Walker, to get much more than the two receptions he has hauled in the last two games. While Denver’s pass defense is solid, teams are targeting the tight end at a much higher rate than wide receivers against the Broncos. If Tennessee isn’t punching the ball in with Henry, expect to see Mariota target Walker in the red zone.
This Sunday, Marcus Mariota will prove to the league that he is capable of not only taking care of the ball against a defensive-minded team, but able to recognize and expose the team’s weaknesses.