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.

Will Tom Brady justify that huge deal at age 42? He already has!

Will Tom Brady justify that huge deal at age 42? He already has!

A quick look at the NFL, since it’s the only place in sports where there is actual news.

  • Momma, don’t let your kids grow up to be running backs. Todd Gurley is 25 and may be close to the end of the line. Yes, partly because of knee injuries, but running backs always get those. And unlike players at other positions, the little mobility they may lose because of it could cost them their job. Plus, the colleges keep churning out adequate replacements for them every year. Gurley signed today with Atlanta and we wish him luck -- but he better start showing some of that explosion he showed as a star at Georgia.

  • Does it really make sense for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to sign a 42-year-old, 20-year-veteran quarterback named Tom Brady to a big-money contract? Well, the Bucs raised ticket prices by 15 percent for all but club-level seats this season and those tickets are selling like toilet paper at a Costco. This franchise is suddenly a hot property in its city, But will the team win? Actually, to a lot of NFL owners, that doesn’t matter -- and you must know that by now. The team should be better, much money will be made and that equals a GREAT signing.

  • The single best thing tight end Jimmy Graham has always been able to do is convince teams to give him large sums of money. The Chicago Bears signed him for two years and $16 million, in spite of the fact that he’s never been much of a blocker, isn’t as explosive as he once was and really, Jimmy Graham?

  • And speaking of free-agent signings, I’m not sure how well Philip Rivers will end up being for Indianapolis at $25 million for one season. Man, at this point of his career I’m not sure he’s better than last year’s QB, Jacoby Brissett. Raise your kids to be quarterbacks, momma.

  • Have the latest free-agent signings made the Seahawks better? You’re asking the wrong guy. Wish I could tell you I am an expert on line play in the NFL, but there aren’t many sports writers who really know what they’re talking about when it comes to the guys up front -- which is where Seattle has spent its money so far. They’ll say they’re better, which teams always do, but the hope would be that they could stay healthier.

Seattle Seahawks in action vs. Tampa Bay, follow on social for updates

Seattle Seahawks in action vs. Tampa Bay, follow on social for updates

All that stands between the Seahawks and a big-time division game vs. the 49ers is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Josh Gordon will not play this week, the NFL is truly "Any Given Sunday" and Seattle cannot be caught looking ahead to their prime-time matchup. 

Our NFL Insider, Joe Fann, gets you ready for the game with this nugget from his Players to Watch article:

Ziggy Ansah will be on this list until he gets going. Pete Carroll reiterated this week that the Seahawks need more from the pass rush. I don’t see how that happens without the help of Ansah. It appears that he’s past his ankle injury as he was left off Seattle’s final injury report. He and the rest of Seattle’s pass rush will go up against a Bucs offensive line that has allowed 28 sacks this season in just seven games, tied for fifth-most in the NFL. Making Jameis Winston uncomfortable in the pocket will be crucial on Sunday.

Our Seahawks Insider Joe Fann and Digital Producer Lindsey Wisniewski are in Seattle for the game, so make sure you follow along on social

How to Watch/Stream the game:

What if… we re-drafted the 2015 NFL Draft and Marcus Mariota goes No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay?

What if… we re-drafted the 2015 NFL Draft and Marcus Mariota goes No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay?

It’s the 2015 NFL Draft. Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota is coming off a Heisman Trophy winning campaign after taking the Ducks to the national championship. The time is now April when the next step in his illustrious football career is about to begin.

“With the second pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select Marcus Mariota, quarterback from Oregon.”

Cheers and applause ring in as the Hawaii native’s dreams of becoming an NFL quarterback have just come true. He puts on the navy blue hat and shakes the commissioner’s hand just mere minutes after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston as the No. 1 overall pick.

Fast forward, and Mariota is in his fifth year with the Titans. He has had only the same offensive coordinator once in back-to-back seasons (Terry Robiskie in 2016 and 2017), an unstable offensive line and now has been benched ahead of Sunday’s matchup vs. the Los Angeles Chargers in favor of Ryan Tannehill.

So let’s play the “what if” game for a moment: What if we re-drafted the 2015 NFL Draft and Mariota was selected No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Let’s first talk about coaching consistency. In 2015, the Bucs head coach was Lovie Smith with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. That season, Tampa Bay finished with a 6-10 record and last in the NFC South division. The following year, Koetter was appointed to head coach: an offensive mind that would have been paired with Mariota at the helm. It was only until this current 2019 season that the Bucs hired new head coach Bruce Arians and new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. 

In 2015, Jameis Winston threw for over 4,000 yards and averaged 252.6 per game while Mariota threw for 2,818 yards. Winston was sacked 27 times while Mariota was sacked 38 times. Mariota did have the upper hand when it came to pass completion: Mariota 62.2% and Winston at 58.3%.

That same season, Bucs running back Doug Martin also ran for 1,402 total yards, good for second in the league. So the run game was very much present as well.

So just imagine what that offense would have looked like with a more accurate quarterback in Mariota combined with the offensive mindset from the head coach? Sure, the Bucs are in the same division as Drew Brees and Cam Newton (old school Cam Newton, not today’s Cam Newton), but that Bucs offense would have looked very different.

The Bucs finished 9-7 in 2016 (Winston’s second season). 

What’s done is done. Mariota has had an interesting time in Tennessee to say the least and his time in Nashville may have run its course. For better or for worse, only time will tell if Mariota is seen in a new uniform next season as he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.25 - Jacquizz Rodgers

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.25 - Jacquizz Rodgers

The Beavers ventured to Texas to find James Rodgers, and not only did they find him, they found his brother Jacquizz. The younger of the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz was just a three-star prospect coming out of high school, but he became one of the greatest running backs in Oregon State history.

Rodgers rushed for 1,253 yards his first season, setting a Pac-10 record for yards rushing by a freshman and was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. By the time he left Corvallis Rodgers had amassed 3,877 yards on the ground and scored 46 rushing touchdowns. He is 14th All-Time on the Pac-12 career-rushing list and trails only Ken Simonton (5,082) in the Oregon State record books.

Rodgers was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft, and currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For his NFL career Rodgers has rushed for 1,961 yards and six touchdowns.