Marcus Mariota’s inaugural preseason is likely over.
Even if the Tennessee Titans decide to play the rookie quarterback during the team’s final preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, it won’t mean anything. Maybe a quick series just to keep the rust off.
There was plenty of hype surrounding Mariota entering his first live action against another NFL team, and luckily for the Titans, he’s handled it well the past several weeks.
Of course, things got off to a shaky start. With the entire football world talking about Mariota’s interception streak in training camp, the young standout walked onto the field in Atlanta and proceeded to throw an interception on his first ever offensive possession. Then he followed that up with another turnover on the next drive, leaving many Titans fans with uneasy flashbacks to recent years.
But then Mariota started building his momentum. He looked very impressive in the team’s thrashing of the St. Louis Rams on national television, which was a welcomed sight after the struggles of the first game.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Rams game was Mariota’s ability to not only be a threat with his arm, but also with his legs. He showed that ability during his days at Oregon, however, you never really know how that will translate against NFL defenses. Thus far, it appears that it’ll translate well.
The Titans were hammered by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third preseason outing, but it had nothing to do with Mariota.
Once again, the rookie played well and looked to be in complete control of the offensive unit.
This was what Titans fans were hoping for. No one wanted to spend the entire preseason talking about yet another unstable quarterback situation.
But now, there’s no doubt. Mariota is officially the man under center, and that won’t change unless he drastically gets worse as the weeks progress. The chances of that happening are rather slim.
Yes, the preseason is the preseason. However, Mariota has done so many things well that it would be silly to completely dismiss it. This was the type of preseason that he needed, as it allows him to enter the team’s first regular season game against Tampa Bay with a lot of confidence.
There are still plenty more bumps in the road for Mariota and the offense. Things aren’t always going to flow as well as they did against the Rams. There will inevitably be times where things look as bad as they did in those first few possessions against the Falcons.
Defensive coaches around the league will create game-plans with the sole intent on creating as much havoc and confusion as possible for Mariota. That could cause things to be downright ugly at times.
It’s going to happen, so might as well be prepared.
What we’ve seen from Mariota thus far suggests that he’ll handle those struggles just fine. His resiliency has been one of his best qualities early on in his career, and that’s good news for the Titans. Because again, the bumps are coming.
For now though, Titans fans should be somewhat at ease. Mariota could still be a bust, but at this point, there’s a different feeling surrounding him than there has been with past quarterbacks. And after a nice preseason, he’s continuing to make fans forget the past and focus on the present.
Mariota hasn’t made it just yet. There’s still a long way to go. But after a fine preseason, the guy looks like a winner.
And when he rolls into Tampa and takes the field for his first-ever regular season game, it’ll be his job to make the Titans a winner as well.