Tennessee Titans

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.

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. 

Report: Raiders interested in former Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Report: Raiders interested in former Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Could we see Marcus Mariota in Sin City in 2020? 

It’s not out of the question.

According to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo, the Raiders could have their eyes on Mariota when free agency opens next week. The report also stated the Raiders would be more interested in a “1B” backup like Mariota rather than a big move.

The former No. 2 overall pick out of Oregon is coming off his fifth NFL season, where he was benched for Ryan Tannehill. Prior to being sidelined, Mariota led the Tennessee Titans to a 2-4 record as starter and he failed to complete more than 60 percent of his passes.

The Titans eventually took off with Tannehill at helm in 2019, reaching the AFC Championship, where they fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

At 26, Mariota still has a ton of potential, but a change of scenery might do him well. In his sophomore campaign, Mariota threw for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions before breaking his leg. Things went downhill from there for Mariota, who threw just 13 touchdowns with 15 interceptions the following year.  

Before being benched last season, Mariota has a 29-32 record in 61 games as a starter with 13,207 passing yards, 76 touchdowns, and 44 interceptions.

As Garofolo pointed out, Raiders general Mike Mayock had Mariota as his No. 1 quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft class.  

It’s unclear whether teams see the former Oregon quarterback as starter or backup material. If Carr remains in the fold in Las Vegas, Mariota could be an intriguing option to compete for the starting gig.

There could be some truth behind the report, or it could mean absolutely nothing. It’s worth noting the Raiders have also been linked as a potential suitor for six-time Super Bowl champion and soon-to-be free agent Tom Brady. Mariota also has received interest from the Colts and Patriots, per reports.

Ryan Tannehill has high praise for Marcus Mariota

usatsi_13798813.jpg
USATI

Ryan Tannehill has high praise for Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota may no longer be the starter in Tennessee, but he is still making an impact for the Titans. 

Mariota, the former No. 2 overall pick, has failed to live up to lofty expectations in Tennessee. Midway this season, he found himself relegated to the bench as the team gave Ryan Tannehill the keys to the car. 

The story from here didn't play out as many fans expected. 

There were no hard feelings. Rather then be all "woe is me," Mariota supported the move and supported Tannehill. 

In fact, as the Titan's season came to an end in the AFC Championship Game, Showtime camera caught an exchange between the two quarterbacks that truly shows the type of person Mariota is. 

That's right, a visibly frustrated Tannehill was stopped and consoled by Mariota, with Mariota telling him “I am excited for you... it’s the start of something great, brother. I am so excited for you.”

Tannehill replaced Mariota, led the Titans on an improbable playoff run, and is now in Orlando prepping for the Pro Bowl. 

In an interview with the media, he had nothing but high praise for Mariota. 

Marcus is an incredible human being, and I have so much respect and love for him. The way he handled things... it was an incredibly tough situation. He was in Tennessee for five years, and it was his team and where he made his home. The way things went down, I don't think many guys in the world would handle it the way he did. He handled it like a true professional. He was supportive of me from Day One. I know he was hurting, and I tried to be empathetic with that throughout the season and give support to him as well. But he handled it so well.. he was supportive of me, helped me out on game days, in preparation during the week. He was just a consistent guy throughout the year.

That wasn't all. He added, "We are great friends and we will continue to be great friends."

It's moments like this that the world gets to find out what fans in the Northwest already knew -- Marcus Mariota is truly special. 

Marcus Mariota has a heart of gold, but we all knew that

Marcus Mariota has a heart of gold, but we all knew that

No surprises here. Marcus Mariota has a heart of gold and is spreading holiday cheer. The former Oregon football star, Heisman Trophy winner and Tennessee Titans quarterback with his Motiv8 Foundation, gifted “Homes for the Holidays” to two single mothers and first-time home owners.

Mariota partnered with other foundations Habitat for Humanity, Habitat Nashville and Warrick Dunn Charities to gift new homes to those in need. 

From the Motiv8website:

Since its launch, the Motiv8 Foundation has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars towards healthy lifestyle programming, and will continue to fulfill its mission through signature programs, strategic partnerships, and fundraising initiatives.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville was established in 1985, and since then has built or recycled more than 1,285 homes, 920 locally, and served more than 3, 268 family members including 2,060 children, according to their website.

_______________

If you’re just catching up with Mariota and his status in Tennessee, the Titans benched the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and four-year NFL quarterback in week six of this season for Ryan Tannehill.

Will he continue to inspire and give back to those around him in Tennessee next year? Or is Mariota going to take his Motiv8 foundation with him to his next team that may give the quarterback a fighting chance?

Regardless of where Mariota ends up next, it’s hard not to respect and love the guy.

https://twitter.com/godfather_2wo/status/1207072200202817536

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.

Marcus Mariota responds to benching in the most Mariota way possible

Marcus Mariota responds to benching in the most Mariota way possible

The Tennessee Titans (2-4) have announced a change to their roster ahead of Sunday’s matchup vs. the Los Angeles Chargers.

The former No. 2 overall draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Marcus Mariota has spent the previous five seasons in Nashville hoping to be the answer that would turn that franchise around.

That came and went as of 21 hours ago. Mariota has been benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill.

On Wednesday, Mariota addressed the media following the announcement of his benching:

Typical Mariota. Nothing but class and respect.

The Titans organization hasn’t done a great job in aiding Mariota into the quarterback Oregon Ducks fans know him to be. A weak offensive line accompanied by a coaching carousel will do that to a young quarterback. 

Now, the rumors of the Mariota era coming to an end in Nashville are pouring in while the hashtag #FreeMarcus has started on social media. Our Oregon Insider Bri Amaranthus got the scoop from fans:

[RELATED]: #FreeMarcus to the Patriots? Ducks fans react to Mariota era ending in Tennessee

[RELATED]: Justin Herbert to Tennessee in NFL Draft isn’t out of the question

Has Mariota’s last time starting in Tennessee come to an end? He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020...

Justin Herbert to Tennessee in NFL Draft isn't out of the question

Justin Herbert to Tennessee in NFL Draft isn't out of the question

Speculation is oozing that the Tennessee Titans will look to secure a top quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft. Some mock drafts have the Titans selecting another passer from Oregon football: Justin Herbert as the replacement for Marcus Mariota in Nashville. 

The 2-4 Tennessee Titans have sent Mariota to the bench in favor of Ryan Tannehill. It’s a could-be sad ending to a Nashville story that began with much promise. Drafted No. 2 overall in 2015, Mariota brought high hopes to the Titans, becoming the face of the franchise in his humble, nice and unassuming way.

On the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, Mariota will be an unrestricted free agent come the end of the season and likely headed elsewhere for 2020 to hopefully reach his full NFL potential. The Titans look to also move on to find a new answer at quarterback.

In the preseason, USA Today had Herbert slotted to Tennessee in the first round. This week, The Draft Wire released their 2020 NFL Mock Draft and also predicted the Titans to select Herbert in the first round. CBS Sports’ Mock Draft forecasts the Titans picking Herbert with the No. 9 overall selection.

Important to note, of the many NFL scouts present in Eugene for Oregon’s most recent win over Colorado, two Titans scouts were present. Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer, is highly regarded as a projected top-10 2020 NFL Draft pick.

It’s too early for mock drafts, considering a lot can transpire between now and April with Herbert and with the Titans franchise. These scenarios assume that Tennessee misses the playoffs by a large margin with one of the worst records in the NFL.

But depending on draft position, another Oregon quarterback to Tennessee is not out of the question.