Las Vegas Raiders

Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston hitting reset button -- who will be better?

Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston hitting reset button -- who will be better?

It appears that Jameis Winston is signing a free-agent contract with the New Orleans Saints.

And now that Marcus Mariota has signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, it leads me to think that perhaps, after five seasons in the NFL, we still don’t know which of those guys is the best quarterback.

They were drafted in 2015, Winston No. 1 out of Florida State by Tampa Bay and Mariota No. 2 from Oregon by Tennessee, in a year when the draft wasn’t exactly loaded with blue-chip quarterbacks. Both players had previously won a Heisman Trophy.

And it’s certainly time to ask the question, are either of these players going to emerge as a high-quality NFL quarterback?

Of course, regional bias in these parts will always say that Mariota is a star in waiting. The storyline has always been that he hasn’t been used properly, the offense hasn’t been tailored to fit his skill set, he hasn’t had quality receivers, hasn't had a good offensive coordinator, too many coaching changes, etc., etc.

I’m not going to bury you with statistics, you can find Mariota’s stats here and Winston’s here. Just see for yourself and cherry-pick the ones that bolster your argument.

But in summary, I would state the obvious: that Mariota is the steadier of the two, less prone to mistakes. More careful. But Winston, who has been in a Pro Bowl, can be more spectacular, more likely to take chances.

Everyone talks about Winston’s 30 interceptions last season, but he also had 33 touchdown passes, a figure Mariota has never approached. Mariota’s all-time high in picks is 15 and he has only 44 in 63 career games. Winston has thrown 88 interceptions in 72 games. On the other hand, Winston has tossed 121 TD passes while Mariota has thrown just 76.

Both quarterbacks get to hit the reset button -- Winston for a team that resurrected Teddy Bridgewater’s career and Mariota with a coach who seems to love him.

I don’t think I’d be betting on either of them becoming a breakout star with their new franchise, but anything is possible with a fresh start.

At this point, though, I think it’s probably fair to say that neither man has lived up to expectations.

Chip Kelly says NFL coaches aren't using Marcus Mariota right

Chip Kelly says NFL coaches aren't using Marcus Mariota right

Find a coach who believes in you the way Chip Kelly believes in Marcus Mariota.

The two had just one year of collegiate football together for the Oregon Ducks. The Flying’ Hawaiian was a perfect match for Kelly’s uptempo offense. The Ducks’ reign of terror through the Pac-12 was capped off with an 8-1 conference record and a 35-17 win in the Fiesta Bowl over Kansas State.

It only lasted one season, but that Kelly - Mariota duo ignited into a special career for Mariota and resulted in Kelly moving to the NFL. Now, the roles have switched. Mariota is starting a new chapter with the Las Vegas Raiders and Kelly is back to coaching college for the UCLA Bruins.

Turns out, Kelly still remembers the days with Mariota running his offense. 

Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback and now an analyst for ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Matt Hasselbeck joins host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast:

I called a couple UCLA football games this year and every single time I walk into a production meeting, Chip Kelly would start it out with ‘Hass, what’s going on with Marcus Mariota? He’s a star. People aren’t using him right.’ — Matt Hasselbeck

Will the Raiders and head coach Jon Gruden be the team to “use him right?”

I do know that Jon Gruden knows how to catch the quarterback and that’s an opportunity to be on a team that’s trying to build something for the long term. It’s not a team that’s trying to do things recklessly to just win next year. You don’t need the whole league to believe in you. You basically need one or two people to believe in you and right now the Raiders are that team giving him a chance. — Matt Hasselbeck on Mariota 

[RELATED]: Marcus Mariota & Jon Gruden foreshadowed Raiders QB meetings back in 2015

[RELATED]: Las Vegas Raiders was to “rebuild” Marcus Mariota from the ground up

This will be quite the quarterback competition to watch come NFL season: the six-year pro Derek Carr who has only known the Raiders since entering the league in 2014; and the Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

One thing is for sure: when you have a coach that truly believes in you, as Kelly does with Mariota, all it takes is a little confidence to get that swagger back. Hopefully, Gruden can be that coach for Mariota in Las Vegas.

Marcus Mariota helping provide meals for students in Hawaii

Marcus Mariota helping provide meals for students in Hawaii

Marcus Mariota is a special person, and we're not just talking about his football talents. 

For months the entire world has been dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, with the United State being hit especially hard in recent weeks. 

To help ease the burden for those in need, Mariota and his Motiv8 Foundation have partnered with the Island Insurance Foundation and Keith and Bonny Amemiya to help provides meals to the student impacted but the COVID-19 shutdown. 

The program will help provide 1000s public school students in his hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii with both breakfast and lunch. The program will run through at least April 30th, and perhaps longer based on need.

“I’ve been very blessed to be put in a position to help and I think that is a responsibility of mine,” Mariota said in an interview with the Honolulu Star Adviser. 

It's a powerful gesture from one of the greatest athletes in Hawaii and Oregon Ducks history.

It makes you think of a saying that started at Oregon when the Heisman winner left for the NFL Draft.

Two simple words  - Mahalo, Marcus. 

Remembering Marcus Mariota's best moments

Remembering Marcus Mariota's best moments

Marcus Ardel Taulauniu Mariota is a legend in Eugene and across Duck Nation. One of the greatest to ever wear green and yellow and step foot on the Autzen Stadium turf. 

From 2012 to 2014, the Honolulu, Hawaii native was the best thing in college football. 

Mariota led the Ducks to a 36-5 record in his three seasons behind center and a birth in the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship.

Anytime Mariota was on the field, all eyes were on the Ducks. 

In his time in Eugene, Mariota was named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, three-time All-Conference First Team, Polynesian College Football Player of the Year, won the Davey O'Brien Award, Walter Camp Award, Maxwell Award, and is the first player in Oregon history to bring home the Heisman Memorial Trophy. 

Mariota was a human highlight reel that final year on campus, and you can re-live that magical Heisman season in the video above. 

But the fun didn't stop there.

All his success at Oregon led him to be drafted No.2 overall in 2015 by the Tennessee Titans.

And in his first drive as a pro, he threw a touchdown. 

He even caught his own touchdown pass!

Ultimately, though, his time in Tennessee didn't go as planned, but it was still filled with plenty of jaw-dropping moments. 

Don't believe us? Then just watch the video below. 

After four seasons of highlight plays in Tennessee, the team decided to move in a new direction this offseason. 

Rather than invest in Mariota, the Titans signed Ryan Tannehill to a mega deal. In return, Mariota decided to start a new chapter of his career, signing a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. 

Under new head coach Jon Gruden, Mariota could once again find that spark that made him one of the most feared players in the game when he was a Duck. 

The Titans problem wasn't Marcus Mariota...it's thinking Ryan Tannehill is worth $118M

The Titans problem wasn't Marcus Mariota...it's thinking Ryan Tannehill is worth $118M

Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan... and Ryan Tannehill.

Those are the seven highest-paid quarterbacks in the league, but one of those seven doesn't belong...

Six of those quarterbacks have played in a Super Bowl. Four have won a Super Bowl. Two have been named league MVP.

Between them, they have appeared on the yearly list of the Top-100 players in the league 35 times.

However, of those seven players, there is only one that hasn't accomplished any on the feats listed above. That's Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. 

But, the seven do have something in common, they all make bank.

The Titans have reportedly agreed to a 4 year/$118M deal with Tannehill, making him the seventh highest-paid quarterback in the league.

The Titans gave up on former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota midway through the season, giving the keys to the car to Tannehill, instead. 

Yes, while Tannehill was under center, the Titans turned their season around and was QB1 for an incredible playoff run where Tennessee came just one win away from playing in the Super Bowl. 

But, it wasn't really Tannehill that led that charge. 

Over three playoff games he passed for a total of 369 yards and five touchdowns. 209 of those yards came in the AFC Championship game against the Chiefs. The other two games, he passed for fewer than 100 yards. 

What he did excel at was handing the ball off to the tank known as Derrick Henry. 

Henry rushed for 446 yards in the playoffs, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

He started the regular season slow, rushing for 100 or more yards just once in the team's first nine games. However, over his last six games he rushed for 100 or more yards five times. 

Coincidently, the Titans went 5-1 over those six games, the only loss being Week 15 when Henry rushed for just 86 yards. The team also just so happened to lose in Week 16 against the Saints, a game in which Henry did not play. 

On the season, including the playoffs,  the Titans were 8-0 when Henry eclipsed the 100-yard mark and 3-7 when he did not.

This issue was never Mariota.

The answer was never Tannehill.

The Titans' entire season hinged on the performances of Derrick Henry. 

Had Mariota been the one handing the ball off the Henry when the running back flipped the switch, he might be the one getting paid. 

Instead, Mariota finds himself on the free-agent market, likely to end up taking a backup quarterback role with whichever team he eventually signs with.

Fans are hoping that once Mariota finds his new home he also finds a chance to resurrect his career. 

So where will the former No. 2 overall pick land?

Rumors are swirling, but at this point it seems like there are three logical landings spots: Las Vegas, New England, and Chicago. 

Two of those scenarios allow him to be the backup with a legitimate chance to win the starting the job, while the other could set him up to be Tom Brady's successor or the starter if Brady signs elsewhere. 

In Chicago, he would have a realistic chance to beat out Mitch Trubisky who has been underwhelming in his time with the Bears. He would at least give the Bears a reliable backup, something they haven't had in years. 

In Las Vegas, he would be there to challenge Derek Carr. His breathing down Carr's neck could be the perfect recipe to ignite Carr, who has been solid but not great with the Raiders.

In New England, he has a chance to be another classic Bill Belichick reclamation protect. The Patriot's coach has a way of turning other team's trash into his treasure. Should Tom Brady re-sign with the Pats, Mariota could spend a season or two learning from the G.O.A.T, which could do wonders for Mariot's career.

No matter where he signs, the good thing for Mariota is that he can get a fresh start and sometimes that is all a player needs.

Heck, it worked for Tannehill... or at least it worked for his pocketbook.