Sports, Thrill of Victory

No reason for Mariota to play again for the Titans this season

Marcus Mariota should benefit from the arrival of Jones this season. PHOTO COURTESY DONN JONES/TENNESSEE TITANS

We aren’t sure what Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota got for Christmas.

But unless Santa Claus placed an improved offensive line and new playbook under Mariota’s tree, there’s no reason for the rookie to step on the field again this season.

I said the same thing last week. That was before we knew the extent of Mariota’s injury.

He’s already been ruled out of Tennessee’s meaningless game against Houston on Sunday, but interim coach Mike Mularkey has speculated that Mariota could return for the season finale in Indianapolis.

There's no reason for Marcus Mariota to play another down this season. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

There’s no reason for Marcus Mariota to play another down this season. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Mariota himself has also expressed the desire to play another down this season.

However, it’s not worth it. Not even the slightest bit.

Mariota’s value to this team is obvious at this point. He’s the quarterback that the franchise was hoping that he would be when they drafted him second overall in the draft. Most would even agree that he’s much more further along than anyone thought he’d be.

The Titans always need him on the field. But once again, scrambling for his life on a 3rd and 27 against the Colts means nothing.

Converting it won’t us think more highly of him. It won’t save Mularkey’s job. So what’s the point?

It almost seems fitting that the last Titans home game of the season will come with Zach Mettenberger under center. Not that there’s anything wrong with Mettenberger, but it feels eerily similar to the team’s final home game in 2014.

Charlie Whitehurst was under center for Tennessee’s final home game last season, and another lackluster performance from the Titans resulted in a 27-10 loss and cemented a 2-14 season.

Sunday’s game may not be much better.

The Texans enter with a chance to move one step closer towards clinching the AFC South. If Houston knocks of the Titans and Indianapolis loses to Miami, the Texans win the division. So Bill O’Brien’s team has plenty to play for.

Zach Mettenberger will need good protection against the Houston Texans. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Zach Mettenberger will need good protection against the Houston Texans. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

The Titans, on the other hand, don’t. A loss to Houston, and this franchise is one step closer to scoring the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.

It’s two teams heading in different directions. The same thing was said before the final home game last season.

Two years in a row, the Titans have been the team heading in the wrong direction. However, the good news is that the off-season should bring change. Just how much change remains to be seen.

But change is necessary. Especially when you have a quarterback in Mariota whose talents could ultimately be wasted without a roster and front office overhaul.

Many years ago, this franchise proved that it could be among the best in the league. Over the past few years, it’s proven that it could be among the worst.

No big strides are going to be made in the final two games. Which is exactly why we shouldn’t see Mariota in a Titans uniform until the pre-season rolls around next August.

Hopefully by then the Titans will have moved from the team hitting rock bottom to the team starting their ascent.

They won’t be able to do it without Mariota.

And that’s why he should relax and ring in the New Year by resting comfortably on the sideline.