It had been a long time since the Tennessee Titans had won a home game. 420 days to be exact.
At long last, the streak is over. The Titans figured that the streak should end the same way that it started: with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It was a game that had little expectations. And yet it wound up being one of the most entertaining games of the NFL season.
I said it in the game preview. Tanking for the number one overall draft pick wasn’t an option for this Titans team. It was a franchise in need of any sign of progress. A loss at home to the Jaguars would have all but secured another 2-14 season.
3-13 doesn’t sound much better. And should that be Tennessee’s record to end the season, obviously it’s nowhere close to where the Titans need to be right now. But it’s something.
Sunday’s win over Jacksonville may not mean much in terms of record. However, there was one glaring aspect of the game that should come as no surprise at this point:
Marcus Mariota is simply incredible.
The Titans haven’t been easy to watch this season. But Mariota has forced fans to tune in just to see what he could do.
He once again showed signs of brilliance against the Jaguars. However, one moment in particular stood out above the rest.
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) December 6, 2015
A run like that is not natural for an NFL quarterback. But it’s clear at this point that Mariota isn’t your typical quarterback.
That’s why it’s so important for the Titans to make progress. Mariota has continued to show that he is a franchise quarterback and is without question the player to lead this team going forward.
For that to be wasted would be absolutely shameful.
Mariota should win the NFL Rookie of the Year award with ease. Sure, fellow quarterback Jameis Winston certainly has a case given the fact that he’s led the Tampa Bay Bucs to six wins at this point. But in watching the two, Mariota is the clear choice.
Just look at his performance in the red zone, which is the most important test of whether a quarterback can deliver when it matters. Mariota has an impressive 15 touchdowns on the season in the red zone.
Guess how many interceptions he has? Zero.
How crazy is that? This guy just turned 22 years of age. And he already looks like a veteran quarterback out there on the field.
The Jacksonville win doesn’t change the fact that the Titans have to do what is necessary this off-season to surround Mariota with talent. It’s obvious that the current crop of talent isn’t gonna cut it.
Mariota is a player that can get them a lot of wins. But he has to have help. He hasn’t gotten that help very much this season. The record proves that.
The success of a franchise starts with the quarterback. There have been exceptions to that rule, and bad quarterbacks have been able to rise to the occasion thanks to talented players around them.
Mariota is a great quarterback with not much around him. No matter who the head coach is come 2016, he has already gotten the hard part out of the way.
That makes the head coach’s job much easier. There is no crucial challenge that awaits him when it comes to being able to pinpoint the leader of the franchise.
The leader is here, and he’s wearing No. 8. Now it’s time for someone to help him win even more.