Marcus Mariota was one of the most talked about and most talented players to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. When he was taken second overall by the Tennessee Titans, both the Titans front office and the fans thought things would finally start to pick up over in Nashville. Now that we’re 12 weeks into the 2015 NFL season, we’ve found out that this has not been the outcome for a Titans team that currently sits at 2-8.
Throughout the course of the season, the Titans have hit a few bumps that have negatively impacted Mariota’s production. One of these was the loss of number one wide receiver Kendall Wright. After his absence, Mariota started to lean on Delanie Walker as the primary target. From weeks one to seven, Walker compiled 299 yards. During the last four weeks that Wright has been gone, Walker has accumulated 318 yards. The Titans’ next two leading receivers, Harry Douglas and Dorial Green-Beckham, have only received a combined 244 yards since week nine. Without Kendall Wright, Mariota’s reliance on Walker has increased drastically, which in itself is a huge weakness for opponents to exploit.
Fortunately for the Titans and Mariota, Wright is slated to play against the Oakland Raiders this Sunday which should keep the pass attack from staying one-dimensional with the over-reliance of a single target. However, the pass attack alone will only offer a short term solution. It has been quite baffling to see Mariota restrained to just being a pocket passer, but a lot of his running limitation has been largely due to an MCL sprain sustained against the Miami Dolphins.
After ripping the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 23-yard touchdown last week, Mariota proved that he was healthy enough to run at full speed. If Mariota’s natural running ability is incorporated into the offense, he will become the dual threat he was expected to be and make his offense a nightmare for opposing defenses. This is why interim head coach Mike Mularkey has already stated the need for change.
“We’re tinkering a little more with his running ability….As he’s gotten healthier, we’ve put more things in there that has given him the (ability to) run. It doesn’t mean he’s going to, but it gives him the opportunity to run” said Mularkey to reporters this past Wednesday.
Its refreshing to see the Titans slowly embrace the skills Mariota possesses and exciting to picture the spark it will provide to the offense. With Mularkey slowly allowing Mariota to showcase his true skills and the return of Kendall Wright, the Titans could light it up this Sunday against the Raiders and pull off a much needed win. For now, its only a matter of time to see how much these few changes will impact Mariota’s production throughout the final stretch of the season.