ProDucks

ProDucks Update: Cleveland continues downward spiral courtesy of Justin Hollins

ProDucks Update: Cleveland continues downward spiral courtesy of Justin Hollins

In the backfield, making roster moves, the Pro Ducks were everywhere in Week 9 of the NFL regular season.

Here is the latest on the Pro Ducks:

JUSTIN HOLLINS - Outside linebacker, Denver Broncos

The first-year rookie recorded his first sack in an NFL regular season game last Sunday vs. Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns.

Hollins was selected in the fifth round (No. 156 overall) by the Broncos in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Denver (3-6) went on to defeat the Browns 24-19.

DEFOREST BUCKNER, ARIK ARMSTEAD - Defensive line, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers freight train continued last Thursday vs. division rival the Arizona Cardinals. DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead would face a new challenge in 5-foot-10, 22-year-old lightning quick QB Kyler Murray. 

Buckner recorded four tackles (two TFL), three solo and one sack. 

https://twitter.com/OSf49ers/status/1190699106504568832

The 49ers went on to defeat the Cardinals 28-25 on Thursday Night Football.

HRONISS GRASU - Offensive lineman, Tennessee Titans

The former Oregon center was resigned to the Titans on October 28. 

Grasu has spent time with five different NFL teams since joining the league in 2015: Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and now with Tennessee.

TONY BROOKS-JAMES - Running back, Pittsburg Steelers

After going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, speedy RB Tony Brooks James spent some time with the Atlanta Falcons during the preseason before getting picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

DE'ANTHONY THOMAS - Wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens

The electric, speedy receiver found a home in Kansas City for the first five seasons of his NFL career before being released this season. Just announced today, the Baltimore Ravens have claimed the six-year vet "Black Mamba" adding another outside speedy weapon for QB Lamar Jackson, should he work his way up the depth chart.

MORE ON THE DUCKS

Polarizing reactions to Willie Taggart's "dream job" dismissal

Florida State did something: Willie Taggart fired by FSU nine games into his second season

Oregon Ducks in contention, hold firm in rankings

ProDucks Blog: Can anyone slow down the freight train that is Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner?

ProDucks Blog: Can anyone slow down the freight train that is Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner?

Coming off a HUGE 37-35 win over the visiting Washington State Cougars on Saturday, the now No. 7 Oregon Ducks will fly south to face the USC Trojans. Putting pressure on Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis will be key in this game and perhaps the Ducks can study how it’s done at the professional level from former Oregon football studs Arik Armstead and Deforest Buckner, now with the San Francisco 49ers.

Let's recap how the Pro Ducks around the NFL did in Week 8: 

Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner: San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers continued a perfect 7-0 season with a dominant 51-13 win over the visiting Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon in San Jose, California.

It all starts up front for the 49ers with that stout defensive line lead by former Ducks Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner and complimented by the No. 2 overall 2019 NFL Draft pick Nick Bosa.

The 49ers held opposing Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen to 19-for-37 completions for 158 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked seven times: three times courtesy of Bosa, two from Armstead and one a piece by D.J. Jones and Ronald Blair III.

Royce Freeman: Denver Broncos

The second-year pro recorded Denver’s only touchdown of the game vs. the Indianapolis Colts: a 4-yard run up the middle untouched for the score.

He finished the day with 12 carries for 40 yards.

MORE ON THE DUCKS:

Positive Oregon injury updates: The Dye brothers vs. USC

Oregon cracks top 10 in latest poll

A once-in-a-decade player ingnites Oregon's run game

Former Oregon Duck Alex Balducci selected in 2019-2020 XFL Draft

Former Oregon Duck Alex Balducci selected in 2019-2020 XFL Draft

It's day one of the XFL Draft! 
Each of the eight teams will fill its 71-man roster by selecting players from a set of positional groupings in the five-phased draft, with the exception of the quarterback position, which will be assigned to each team.

The draft will move quickly and is designed to be social. Teams will be given 90 seconds to make a selection and declare their picks through a video conference, which will be announced on social media.

[RELATED: Seven former Ducks with chance to revitalize career in XFL]

Let’s recap day one of the 2019 XFL Draft:

ALEX BALDUCCI 

Defensive lineman - Oregon, 2012-15

Balducci finished his senior season with the Ducks with a single-season high of 40 tackles and six tackles-for-loss to earn Pac-12 honorable mention All-Conference honors.

Also of note, looks like Balducci will move to the offensive side of the ball after playing on the d-line throughout his collegiate career.

More to come tomorrow in the second and final of the XFL Draft with more Ducks that could be selected. 

[MORE ON THE DUCKS]:

How Oregon's offense changes without Jacob Breeland

Good and bad injury updates for Oregon vs. Washington

Pro Ducks: How did they do in NFL Week 6 action

Pro Ducks: How did they do in NFL Week 6?

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USATI

Pro Ducks: How did they do in NFL Week 6?

Another NFL Sunday is in the books and with it, another chance for the former Oregon Ducks in the NFL to take center stage.

Here is how our Pro Ducks did:

Royce Freeman, Broncos: 

Royce Freeman had another solid outing to help the Broncos pick up their second win of the season, as he continues to be a two-headed monster in the Denver backfield with Phillip Lindsay. Freeman rushed the ball 11 times for 34 yards and caught five passes for 42 yards. 

Pharaoh Brown/Terrance Mitchell, Cleveland Browns:

The Browns may have lost to the Seahawks, but Terrance Mitchell did everything he could to make things come out the other way. Mitchell had six tackles, five solo. On the other side of the ball, tight end Pharaoh Brown was targeted just once, but hauled it in for a nine-yard gain.

Kenjon Barner, Atlanta Falcons:

Barner continues to be one of the more reliable returners in the NFL. He hasn't been used much on offense this season but on special teams, he's at home. Barner had three punt returns for 17 yards and one kick return for 24 yards. He didn't break one this weekend, but he is always a threat. 

Arik Armstead/DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers:

Armstead and Buckner have been huge for the 49ers. San Francisco has surprised the entire NFL by going 5-0 to start the season, and a big part of that success is thanks to the defense. Armstead and Buckner are the anchors of the d-line, and they showed us why on Sunday. Buckner had four tackles, two solo, and one tackle for loss. While Armstead had six tackles, three solo, a half-sack, and one giant fumble recovery. 

De'Anthony Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs:

The Chiefs were upset by the Texans Sunday, and Thomas never really got it going. He had just one rush for four yards and was targeted in the passing game once but didn't register a catch. However, he did contribute three kick returns for 64 yards

Troy Hill, LA Rams:

The Rams fell victim to the undefeated 49ers, but Hill still had a solid game on defense. He had five tackles, four solo, and one pass deflection. 

Kiko Alonso, New Orleans Saints:

No one gave the Saints a chance after Drew Brees went down with an injury earlier this year. But in the four weeks since all they have done is go 4-0. In that time span, the defense has allowed an average of 16.75 points per game. On Sunday, the defense held Jacksonville to just six points, while Kiko Alonso had three tackles, two solo. 

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans:

Mariota had a rough afternoon Sunday going 7 of 18 passing for 63 yards, and two interceptions. He was also sacked three times. He watched much of the game from the sideline after he was pulled for backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The biggest question for Mariota is whether or not he will be the Titans starting quarterback come next week... 

  


 

Seven former Ducks with chance to revitalize career in XFL

Seven former Ducks with chance to revitalize career in XFL

The return of the XFL creates an opportunity for 1,000 football players to revive their careers. The full list for the 2020 XFL player draft has been released and there are seven Ducks in the draft pool.

  • Quarterback Darron Thomas (Oregon, 2008-11)
  • Linebacker Josh Kaddu (Oregon, 2008-11)
  • Linebacker Christian French (Oregon, 2011-15)
  • Safety Erick Dargan (Oregon, 2010-14)
  • Offensive lineman Alex Balducci (Oregon, 2012-15)
  • Long snapper Tanner Carew (Oregon 2014-17)
  • Linebacker Johnny Ragin (Oregon 2014-16)

Thomas is one of the top star quarterback names on the list. The former Duck accounted for 74 touchdowns in two seasons as Oregon's starter from 2010-11. He led Oregon to two consecutive Pac-12 Championships, the national championship game after the 2010 season and won the Rose Bowl after 2011.

The 1,000 professional football players in the draft pool have accepted a Commissioner’s Invitation and passed a standard background check.
Each XFL team will fill its 71-man roster by selecting players from a set of positional groupings in the five-phased draft, with the exception of the quarterback position, which will be assigned to each team.

The draft will move quickly and is designed to be social. Teams will be given 90 seconds to make a selection and declare their picks through a video conference, which will be announced on social media.

Returning after a 19-year absence, the league promises rule innovations that will produce a faster-paced and more interesting games.

The eight-team league will draft players on Tuesday, October 15 and Wednesday, October 16. Training camp is scheduled for January and the season will begin Feb. 8, 2020.

 

How the ProDucks Ugo Amadi, Jalen Jelks, Justin Hollins, Dillon Mitchell have fared in the NFL

How the ProDucks Ugo Amadi, Jalen Jelks, Justin Hollins, Dillon Mitchell have fared in the NFL

We are through three weeks of the 2019 NFL regular season, and if you’re an avid football fan like us, you’re probably wondering how the latest Oregon football draft picks are performing? Look no further. 

There were four Ducks selected in the 2019 NFL Draft: Ugo Amadi, Jalen Jelks, Justin Hollins, and Dillon Mitchell. 

Let’s get you caught up on where they are today and the impact they are having on their respected teams.

UGO AMADI - Drafted 132nd overall (4th round) of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

The 5-foot-9, 201-pound safety has turned heads since stepping onto the Seahawks practice facility.

Amadi made the Seahawks 53-man roster for the 2019-20 season and while he waits patiently behind starters Tedric Thompson and Bradley McDougald, he is finding time on special teams including one heck of a timed tackle vs. Minnesota during preseason play.

You can't time that any better.

JALEN JELKS - Drafted 241st overall (7th round) of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

The 6-foot-5, 256-pound defensive end was shifty and speedy in a Ducks uniform. Now, with the Cowboys, Jelks recorded his first sack against the 49ers in preseason play.

Unfortunately, Jelks was placed on the Cowboys’ Reserve/Injured roster on Saturday, Aug. 31. According to RotoWire of CBS Sports, “Jelks (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve Saturday, per the league's official transactions report. It remains to be seen what sort of injury the rookie seventh-round pick is dealing with. Jelks was working to carve out a role on special teams with the Cowboys.”

JUSTIN HOLLINS - Drafted 156th overall (5th round) of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.

After an impressive senior season in an Oregon uniform, that ended with a Reeses' Senior Bowl Defensive MVP award, Justin Hollins has made it onto the Broncos’ 53-man roster. 

The 6-foot-5, 248-pound linebacker will back up Pro-Bowler Von Miller. What a fantastic learning opportunity for the young Hollins. 

DILLON MITCHELL - Drafted 239th overall (7th round) of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

Mitchell declared for the NFL following a record-breaking junior season with the Ducks. He finished with a program single-season record 1,184 yards receiving.

The 6-foot-1, 202-pound Mitchell was signed to the Vikings practice squad during roster cuts. With already a star-studded Vikings receiver corps in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, Mitchell will have to learn and be patient, but we all know his potential...

OTHER ProDucks making an impact:

How about that San Francisco defensive front? The five-year veteran Arik Armstead already has recorded five tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble this season. Alongside him is four-year Pro Bowler DeForest Buckner, who has recorded 10 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble so far this season. 

Former Hesiman winner quarterback Marcus Mariota is off to a tough start to the 2019-20 season. Through three games, Mariota has been sacked 17 times (most in the NFL), a 57.5% competition percentage, 304 passing yards, zero touchdowns and a QBR rating of 31.5.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso’s career with the Miami Dolphins has come to an end. Alonso was traded to the New Orleans Saints last week and earned his first career start with the Saints at Seattle last Sunday. 

Former Duck Jordan Bell shines in the spotlight

Former Duck Jordan Bell shines in the spotlight

Jordan Bell. It's a name known well in the Pacific Northwest. After Thursday's performance in the Western Conference Finals, it's also a name well known in the city of Oakland, San Francisco Bay, and the entire NBA. 

The second-year big man out of the University of Oregon has had his ups and downs with Golden State. He has been in and out of the rotation over the last two seasons, has had his maturity questioned, and has had to rebuild the team's confidence in him. 

He's had verbal spats with teammates and coaches, and in March of this season, Bell was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team." It was later reported that he made purchases at a team hotel and had them charged to assistant coach Mike Brown without his permission.

At the time, it almost felt like the end of the rope for Bell's career: A "here we go again" moment for the Warriors and their young forward. But instead of rolling over, Bell took it on the chin and bounced back. Despite spot minutes and DNPs, he continued to focus on his game. Not just his basketball game, but his mental game. 

"I think he's evolved mostly mentally... You know, he's gotten more intelligent," teammate Draymond Green after the Warriors Game 2 victory. "I think all those things are great but more important than all of that, his mental. His professionalism. I think that's where he's grown the most and I think right now, that's paying off for him the most."

All the hard work culminated in a breakout playoff performance against the Blazers on Thursday. Bell played just 14 minutes, but his impact was large. He scored 11 points, pulled down three rebounds, and added two steals, a block, and an assist for the two-time defending champs. He stuffed the stat sheet, helping the Warriors seal the deal with a come from behind victory. 

“Jordan did a really good job for us tonight with his energy," Andre Iguodala said of Bell. 

[He] is one of those guys who has got that energy. He thrives off the spotlight. He enjoys being in those moments and people are watching him. He takes advantage of that.

A lot of Blazers fans know exactly what Iguodala means. Fans in Oregon have been watching Bell come up big ever since he stepped on the court for the Ducks in 2014. His junior year, he helped lead to the Ducks to an appearance in the Final Four, where he had a 13 points, 16 rebounds and a four block performance in the Ducks' loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

It was the biggest stage in college basketball, and Bell basked in the spotlight. Now on the biggest stage in the NBA, Bell has found a way to do it again. 

"It's a good series for him. It's a good matchup. The way we're playing suits him," said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. "We need a lot of speed out there. I think the last three games, Game 6 in Houston and the first two games here, he's kind of settled down and he's been very comfortable. Very relaxed. He's not in a rush and he's playing good basketball, so he will continue to get minutes."

If Bell continues to get minutes, he could be a problem for the Blazers as the series shifts to Portland. The second-year player blocks shots, gets rebounds and does the little things the Warriors need from their bench unit to bury the Blazers. 

How does Bell go about making sure he gets those minutes? According to Green, it goes back to his maturity.

"It's not like he's out there taking seven mid-range jump shots. He's just playing hard," Green said. "It's the staying ready, being in the gym nonstop, even when you're not playing for 10 games straight, staying in the gym, being there early and getting the work in.

"That's what's paying off for him now."  

It's paying off in key playoff minutes, clutch playoff performances, and most of all, it's paying off with a heightened state of confidence from his teammates.

"When his number gets called, he's either going to be ready or not," Green said. "We have confidence in Jordan because we know how it's been going in the gym all year long."

More than the confidence of his teammates, getting the call has boosted Bell's confidence in himself.

When you’re playing, that’s the most confidence right there. Just experience. I was lacking on that...When the coach calls your name in Game 6 against Houston at their place, and a game where we can possibly end it there, it gives you a lot of confidence going into the (next) series.”

Do the Warriors need Bell to win their third-straight title? Probably not. Does it hurt the cause when Bell is playing with confidence and shines on the big stage? Absolutely not.

Bell has a large fan base rooting for him and it's not just rooted in Oakland.  Up north in enemy territory, the Ducks fanbase is cheering hard. Not for Warriors wins, but for their former star.

Atlanta signs Tony Brooks-James after an impressive two days at rookie minicamp

Atlanta signs Tony Brooks-James after an impressive two days at rookie minicamp

After going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, former Oregon running back Tony Brooks-James has officially found a home in the NFL.

Brooks-James made a quick impression on the Atlanta Falcons through two days of rookie minicamp; the Falcons signed Brooks-James following practice on Saturday.

Reportedly a standout at practice, Brooks-James broke several big runs, slipping through the hole and showing off his exceptional speed in the open field.

Brooks-James’ confidence never waivered. He was invited to both Atlanta’s and Seattle’s rookie minicamps. After the Seahawks’ practice, NBCSNW Seahawks insider Aaron Fentress spoke with the 5-foot-9, 190-pound versatile running back.

"I think I have a chance to stick here (in Seattle) or in Atlanta," Brooks-James said. "It's all about getting a chance to stick and stand out."

He then paused and smiled before letting it be known, "I'm making a team."

At Oregon, Brooks-James totaled 3,302 all-purpose yards over his career. He averaged 26.1 yards per kick return last season and 25.7 per return as a redshirt junior.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxVWtfbFWbm/

Where are the #ProDucks, #ProBeavs and other NFL players with local connections?

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USA Today

Where are the #ProDucks, #ProBeavs and other NFL players with local connections?

Free agency and player movement have led to some familiar faces from the area finding new addresses and opportunities while some others have called it a career. 

Former Oregon defensive lineman Haloti Ngata retired last week after 13 seasons and could be bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Former Oregon offensive lineman Max Unger also retired, and although he probably won't end up in the Hall of Fame, he should be considered the second best offensive linemen to ever come out of UO.

[ALSO READ: Max Unger leaves NFL as one of the best OL products Oregon has produced

Offensive lineman Andy Levitre (Oregon State) was released by Atlanta. He spent most of last season on injured reserve with a torn bicep.  His career could also be over. 

Finding yet another job is former UO running back Kenjon Barner, who signed as a free agent with Atlanta. Barner has played Carolina, Philadelphia, New England, then Carolina again and now the Falcons. 

Former Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is looking for a job after spending his entire career with the Los Angeles Rams. Mike Remmers (Oregon State) was released by Minnesota on Mar. 11.  Linebacker D.J. Alexander (OSU) is a free agent. 

Receiver De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon), who fractured his leg during practice on Oct. 11, remains a free agent. Defensive lineman Dion Jordan, (Oregon) who was with Seatttle last season, remains a free agent.

Ndamukong Suh, the defensive tackle out of Nebraska and Grant High School, is a free agent. He spent last season with the Rams. 

Below is a team-by-team list of former Ducks, Beavers and others from around the state, currently on NFL rosters. If we've missed anyone, please let us know with an email to AaronFentress@CSNNW.com:

 

 ARIZONA CARDINALS
 

  • Joe Walker, Oregon, linebacker: Signed away from Philadelphia's practice squad last September. Appeared in 14 games and had eight tackles. 

 

 

 ATLANTA FALCONS

 

  • Kenjon Barner, Oregon, running back: Signed as a free agent this week. 
  • Sean Harlow, Oregon State, guard: Signed to the practice squad in October after being released by the Colts. 
  • Rocky Ortiz, Oregon State, running back. 

 

 

 BALTIMORE RAVENS

 

 

 

 BUFFALO BILLS

 

 

 

 CAROLINA PANTHERS

  • None.

 

 

 CHICAGO BEARS

 

  • Kyle Long, Oregon Ducks, guard: Signed a new contract this offseason. 
  • Ryan Nall, Oregon State (Central Catholic H.S., Portland), running back: Spent last season on the practice squad.  

 

 

 CINCINNATI BENGALS

 

     

     

     CLEVELAND BROWNS

     

     

     DALLAS COWBOYS

     

     

     

     DENVER BRONCOS

     

     

     

     DETROIT LIONS

     

     

     

     GREEN BAY PACKERS 

     

    • Evan Baylis, Oregon, tight end: Signed to the Packers' practice squad in December and to a futures contract in January. 
    • Eddie Pleasant, Oregon, safety: Signed by the Packers in December. 

     

     

     HOUSTON TEXANS

     

    • Brennan Scarlett, California and Stanford (Central Catholic H.S., Portland). 

     

     

     INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

     

    • Josh Andrews, Oregon State, gaurd: Signed off the Eagles practice squad in December. 

     

     JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

     

    • None. 

     

    KANSAS CITY

     

    • Henry Mondeaux, Oregon Ducks, defensive line: Signed a futures contract in January. Spent some time last season with New Orleans. 

     

    LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

     

    • Arrion Springs, Oregon Ducks, cornerback: Spent last season on the practice squad for Kansas City, Oakland, Cleveland and New Orleans. 

     

    LOS ANGELES RAMS

     

     

     

    MIAMI DOLPHINS

     

     

     

    MINNESOTA VIKINGS

     

    • None.

     

     

    NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

     

    • Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech (West Salem H.S.), punter: Signed a one-year deal this month. 
    • Patrick Chung, Oregon Ducks, safety

     

     

     NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

     

    • None. 

     

     NEW YORK GIANTS

     

     

     

    NEW YORK JETS

     

    • None. 

     

     OAKLAND RAIDERS

     

     

     

    PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

     

     

     

    PITTSBURGH STEELERS

     

    • Kameron Canaday, Portland State, long snapper: Played special teams. 
    • Steven Nelson, Oregon State, defensive back: Signed a $25 million contract this week. 

     

     

    SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

     

     

     SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

     

     

     TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

     

     

     TENNESSEE TITANS

     

     

     WASHINGTON REDSKINS

    • Byron Marshall, Oregon Ducks, running back: Resigned with Washington for $725,000.  

    Tennessee Titans' quarterback Marcus Mariota's NFL career is at a crossroads

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    USA Today

    Tennessee Titans' quarterback Marcus Mariota's NFL career is at a crossroads

    Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota shouldn't be considered a bust four years into his NFL career with the Tennessee Titans. That designation would be patently unfair. 

    However, it's clear that the 2014 Heisman Trophy recipient has yet to distinguish himself as a star in the NFL, of as even a legitimate building block at the most important position for a potential championship contender. 

    A proper grade for Mariota's career to date would be: Incomplete. 

    For that reason, and the realities of financial obligations surrounding the most important single position in any team sport, Tennessee was wise to acquire quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a sixth-round pick in 2019 for a fourth-round pick in 2020 and a seventh-round pick this year.

    Mariota is due to make $21 million this season on the final year of his rookie deal. Tennessee has not indicated that it will seek to sign Mariota, 25, to an extension until after he proves himself this upcoming season. And why should they? Mariota has not demonstrated that he is worthy a team tying up $100 million with huge long-term cap hits to a quarterback that has not proven to be a franchise guy. 

    That's exactly the reason why Miami moved Tannehill, 30, after seven seasons with the Dolphins. In 2015, he signed a contract extension worth $96 million that tied him to Miami through 2020. But instead of continuing with that deal, Miami decided to move on from Tannehill and take a cap hit of about $13.4 million this season in order to free up money sooner and find another quarterback in the process. 

    Miami took a chance on Tannehill and it didn't pay off. Tennessee is trying to avoid making the same mistake with Mariota and has signed Tannehill as insurance in case the former Duck is injured or simply does not perform well. The Titans will be in a position to either sign Mariota long-term should he elevate his play, or franchise tag him in 2020 and make him prove it again, or let him go with no cap ramifications and go with Tannehill in 2020, or completely start over at quarterback without a huge financial obligation at that position. 

    Titans general manager Jon Robinson has stated that Mariota is the starter and that Tannehill is being brought in as the backup. But he is no ordinary backup. He is a former full-time starter that has had some success and would offer a much better option to turn to than Blaine Gabbert did last season. 

    Robinson met with the media today and talked about Mariota's progress from his injury that slowed him last season. 

    “He said he's feeling good, working out and moving around, throwing,” Robinson said told reporters. “I think he's going to come back here a little bit before the appointed time (April 15) and get some work in. I'm looking forward to getting back to work with him, excited to have him back on our football team. Look forward to it.”

    Mariota has been brilliant at times. In his second season he passed fro 26 touchdowns with nine interceptions and appeared to be on the fast track to stardom. But his season ended late in the year when he fractured his fibula. The impacts of that injury appeared to linger the following season and he regressed, passing for just 13 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. Tennessee used a potent running game and solid defense to overcome the lack of a quality passing game and reached the playoffs where Mariota orchestrated a second-half comeback at Kansas City that resulted in a playoff victory for the Titans. 

    Last season, Mariota began slowly after an elbow injury cost him some time. But he was magnificent on several occasions.

    • Sept. 30 vs. Philadelphia: Mariota had arguably his best performance as a professional when he threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and had the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to defeat Philadelphia 26-23. He also rushed for a touchdown. 
    • Nov. 5 at Dallas: Mariota threw for 240 yards on 21-of-29 passing with two touchdowns and ran for another in a 28-14 Monday night win at the Cowboys.
    • Nov. 11 vs. New England: Mariota completed 16 of 24 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in a 34-10 win over New England.
    • Nov. 26 at Houston: Mariota completed 22 of 23 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to the Texans. 

     

    The problem was that Mariota had trouble staying healthy, twice going down with injuries. He also closed the season with zero touchdown passes over his final three appearances, all victories, to finish with 11 touchdown passes and eight interceptions on the season. 

    In 29 starts over the past two years, Mariota has thrown just 24 touchdowns with 23 interceptions. Compare those numbers to Tannehill​​​​​​'s final two healthy seasons in Miami (he missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury) when over 24 starts he threw for 36 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. 

    On paper, one would wonder why Tennessee is even bothering with allowing Mariota to be the presumptive starter in 2019. But there are plenty of reasons why one shouldn't give up on Mariota just yet. 

    First, and maybe foremost, he has had three head coach in four seasons. Ken Whisenhunt was the man in 2015 when the Titans drafted Mariota but was let go after a 1-6 start and replaced by Mike Mularkey.  Mariota had his best season under Mularkey and won a playoff game the following season. But, the Titans let him go following the 2017 season to hired Mike Vrabel. He is now on his second offensive coordinator after Matt LaFleur left Tennessee after one season to take the same job in Green Bay. The Titans elevated former tight ends coach Arthur Smith to offensive coordinator. 

    Needless to say, a revolving door of head coaches and offensive coordinators is not very quarterback friendly. 

    Also, Tennessee has been very average at wide receiver during Mariota's career. Dorial Green-Beckham led team wide receivers in 2015 with 549 yards. Rishard Matthews led the team in 2016 with 945 yards and in 2017 with 795. Corey Davis, the fifth-overall pick in 2017, led Titans' wide receivers with 891 last year and appears to be on track to becoming a legit star. Maybe. 

    The lack of a true No. 1 receiver over the years and then the season-ending injury to tight end Delanie Walker last season, have certainly worked against Mariota's progress as a quarterback. But blaming the receivers only goes so far. 

    What we know about Mariota is that he still can move around at an elite level with his feet, he is extremely accurate on short and intermediate throws and he doesn't make a ton of mistakes, although he still suffers from some ball security issues in the pocket that popped up from time to time when he was at Oregon. 

    Mariota, just like when he was at Oregon, has not proven to be a great downfield passer. He doesn't scare teams deep. Your best NFL quarterbacks - Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes II, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, etc,. - can all strike fear in the hearts of defenses with the threat of the long touchdown pass. With Mariota, so far, not so much. 

    One thing that must be pointed out is that Mariota's overall efficiency last season was at a career high. His passer rating of 92.3 ranks behind his second season (95.6) only if we include the two interceptions he threw during the season-opening loss to Miami that occurred on two throws made after he injured his right elbow and still tried to play through the numbness in his passing hand. 

    Take those passes out of the equation and Mariota's passer rating pops up a bit to a career-high of 96.6. But that would only rank 15th in the NFL during an era when a rating of 100 or better is the gold standard. 

    Plus, with the season on the line, Mariota was unable to play against the Colts in the final regular season game. The Titans, who started Gabbert, lost 33-17. 

    It's safe to say that the 2019 season is Mariota's final audition for the Titans in an attempt to convince them to give him a fat new contract. He must stay healthy. Put up 35-30 total touchdowns. Lead the team to the playoffs. And show that he is worthy of a long-term investment.

    Should he fail, Mariota could be on the move next season and it might be to find a job similar to the one Tannehill has now.