Sports, Thrill of Victory

Remembering what matters after Marcus Mariota’s rough pre-season start

The skies were clear in Nashville this past Friday night. But you wouldn’t know it from the loud rumbles around Music City.

Marcus Mariota struggled in his first pre-season game with the Titans. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Marcus Mariota struggled in his first pre-season game with the Titans. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

That rumble was caused by some Titans fans quickly jumping off the Marcus Mariota bandwagon.

Mariota’s impressive pre-season streak without an interception quickly came to an end during the team’s first pre-season game in Atlanta, as the Falcons picked off the Titans quarterback on the very first possession.

Hey, it was fun while it lasted, right? Surely the franchise is already exploring trade options.

Clearly I’m joking. But a certain contingent of fans are not. Mariota’s shaky pre-season start has brought out the doubters from hiding, and they are loudly proclaiming that they knew this would be inevitable.

Everything was going well during the streak, but with two turnovers on his first two NFL possessions, he’s gone from savior to overrated in just two plays.

Thus is the life of an NFL quarterback. Your strengths will be overblown at times and your weaknesses will be magnified.

This will never change. Mariota will always have critics. And after his strengths were overblown thanks to a no interceptions streak in training camp, his weaknesses were magnified in one quarter of a pre-season game.

And then, after Mariota’s struggles were on display for the world to see, in stepped Zach Mettenberger. Of course, to make matters worse for Mariota, Mettenberger came in and looked to be in complete control of the Titans offense as soon as he stepped onto the field.

That helped fuel the fire even more for those that have doubted Mariota since he was drafted.

Luckily, the criticism means nothing. Not at this point anyways. Just like being perfect in training camp means nothing, the same goes for your performance in your first-ever NFL pre-season game.

Had Mariota thrown an interception on every pass, or fumbled every snap, then we’d have something significant to talk about. But all he did was do what thousands of quarterbacks have done throughout the history of the NFL: He made a couple of mistakes.

However, there were undoubtedly those that lost touch with reality when the national media glorified Mariota’s practice results.

Mariota will learn from his mistakes in preparation for the start of the regular season. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Mariota will learn from his mistakes in preparation for the start of the regular season. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

So what happened at the first sign of trouble? Immediate overreactions everywhere. It was as if his supporters had felt bamboozled.

But this was our savior! How dare he show signs of weakness!

Mariota has never been perfect, and he’s always had weaknesses. Even during his days of leading Oregon to 50+ points per game, he still made mistakes. And guess what? There are more interceptions and fumbles to come throughout his career.

Pre-season is just what it sounds like. It’s a preparation for the start of the actual season. The results give us no definitive answer as to what will happen when the real action begins.

The Titans went 2-2 during the 2014 pre-season. Apparently, that was enough to make some believe that a playoff run was in order. To the extremists, it was Super Bowl or bust, baby.

As we all know, the Titans would go on to win only two games during the entire regular season. Suddenly, that pre-season hype looked sort of silly.

If Mariota turns the ball over multiple times in the each of the three remaining pre-season games, then there’s a legitimate cause for concern.

But legitimate concern over a quarter and a half of work? Absolute madness.

Mariota’s performances don’t mean all that much until the regular season begins on September 13 in Tampa. At that point, pick apart every little detail of Mariota’s actions all you want.

Unfortunately, despite the calls for a more calming approach to what happens between now and then, the rumbles and madness will continue.

Just don’t let the noise distract you from what really matters.