Tennessee Titans

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.

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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.

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.

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... 

  


 

Are the Titans and Blazers best friends?

Are the Titans and Blazers best friends?

The Tennessee Titans have a large following in Oregon thanks to their starting quarterback, former Oregon Ducks star Marcus Mariota. But the rest of the roster might be working on connecting with the fan base in Rip City. How?  By showing off their love for the Trail Blazers. 

A few weeks ago star cornerback Malcolm Butler showed up to Nissan Stadium rocking a Damian Lillard jersey. 

Fans loved seeing the NFL star showing support for Lillard, but the Titans didn't stop there. 

On Sunday, the team continued to show love for all things Rip City when rookie defensive back Amani Hooker showed up rocking a Gary Trent Jr. jersey. 

Trent probably wasn't the next jersey you expected to see, but as Erik Bacharach pointed out, Trent and Hooker grew up close to each other in Minnesota. Maybe Trent will show up to Moda in a Titans jersey soon. 

But really, the only question we have is, who is rocking the Jusuf Nurkic jersey next week? 

 

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler rocks Damian Lillard jersey

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler rocks Damian Lillard jersey

Over the weekend, Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler showed his respect for Damian Lillard.

Butler arrived at Sunday’s home game vs. the Colts wearing a Lillard-Trail Blazers statement jersey.

Erik Bacharach of The Tennessean shared the video on social media.

Monday morning, Lillard showed his gratitude on Twitter.

Could we see Butler at the Moda Center this upcoming season rooting on Lillard and the Blazers? You would think he would want to rock the jersey in Rip City.  

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any Lillard Time magic on Sunday as the Titans fell to the Colts, 19-17.

Ducks and Beavs in the NFL

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USA Today

Ducks and Beavs in the NFL

The Ducks and Beavers both took to the gridiron on Saturday. On Sunday, a handful of former Ducks and Beavers showed off their talents at the NFL level. 

Here is how some of them did:

OREGON STATE BEAVERS:

Jordan Poyer: Buffalo Bills

Poyer put on a show in the Bills' 17-16 season-opening victory over the New York Jets. He led both teams with nine total tackles, six solo, and a sack. 

Brandin Cooks and Johnny Hekker: Los Angeles Rams

The Rams came out victorious on Sunday in Carolina. Johnny Hekker only had to punt three times, but when he was called upon he averaged 46 yards per punt. As for Brandin Cooks, he had just two catches on the night for 36 total yards, but his 24-yard reception was the longest passing play of the game.

Steven Nelson: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh had a rough go in Week 1, losing to the Patriots 33-3. Steven Nelson ended the game with three tackles, one solo.

OREGON DUCKS

Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans

Mariota was on point in the Titans' 43-13 victory over the Browns. Mariota was 14 of 24 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 24 yards. 

Kenjon Barner: Atlanta Falcons

Barner didn't see any touches on offense, but he was a standout on special teams. He had four punt returns for 46 yards, and two kick returns for 44 yards. 

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner: San Francisco 49ers

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner helped anchor a defensive line the held the Buccaneers to 295 yards of offense in the 49ers' 21-17 victory. Armstead had five tackles, two solo, and a sack. Buckner had two solo tackles, one of them for a loss. 

 

Marcus Mariota set to "let it ride" during pivotal season with the Tennessee Titans

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USA Today

Marcus Mariota set to "let it ride" during pivotal season with the Tennessee Titans

Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has one year to prove his worth or his career in Tennessee could come to an end next offseason. 

It's as simple as that. His response to the situation: “I just try to be the best I can be for this team, and let it ride,” he told reporters during organized team activities this week. 

The gambling analogy fits. The Titans wagered $20.9 million on Mariota in 2019 that he could still develop into a franchise quarterback by picking up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract signed as the No. 2-overall selection in 2015. Tennessee also hedged that bet by trading for Ryan Tannehill, a 2012 first-round pick by Miami that didn't materialize into the franchise quarterback the Dolphins hoped they were getting. 

Nevertheless, Tannehill can play the position at a high level at times, as evidenced by his 126 career touchdown passes. In fact, he plays it well enough to push Mariota to the sideline should he falter this season.

For now, Tennessee has made it clear that Mariota is the starter.

“His job is not in jeopardy,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters. “I don’t think that’s something we’re even here to talk about."

Sure thing. But that stance could change in a nanosecond. See last year's situation in Tampa Bay between Jameis Winston, the No. 1-overall pick in 2015, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Winston, suspended to start the season, lost his job, then got it back, then lost it again, and now is once again the starter. In between, Fitzpatrick was both brilliant and dreadful. 

The same juggling act could happen in Tennessee if Mariota isn't careful. Should a juggling act transpire, Mariota could be looking for work next offseason. 

Mariota has had an up-and-down career. At times he has looked brilliant. Other times, very ordinary. Meanwhile, other young quarterbacks have passed him by. Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes II, Houston's Deshaun Watson, Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky, Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, Dallas' Dak Prescott and San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo would not be traded straight up for Mariota. All were drafted after 2015 with the exception of Garoppolo, taken by New England in 2014 before being traded to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season when he became a starter. 

If you're the Titans and your once promising franchise star has been surpassed by six younger quarterbacks, it doesn't make much sense to give him a $100 million contract extension. You would, instead, do what Miami did by moving on from the failed experiment and going down another path. 

The irony in all of this is that Mariota might be better off elsewhere. Vrabel is his third head coach in four years and he's working with his fourth offensive coordinator in five seasons. One must wonder if Mariota would be in a different place in his career had he landed on a team with more stability at the top and a better supporting cast. 

Mariota is smart, accurate, takes good care of the ball from a passing standpoint (just like at Oregon he can become careless with ball security while avoiding pressure) and he still has wide receiver speed to make things happen with his legs. 

Mariota had several outstanding games last season when not bothered by injuries that impacted his passing abilities. 

The Titans have plenty of reasons to gamble on Mariota. The Titans narrowly missed the playoffs last season with their starting quarterback battling injuries and producing just 11 touchdown passes. If he comes near the 26 touchdown passes he threw in 2016, Tennessee could very well make the postseason and extend Mariota.

That all said, Tennessee also has legitimate reasons to prepare for the worst-cased scenario that could see the two parties part ways less than a year from now. 

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.