Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota had to pick himself up off the rain-soaked TIAA Bank Field a total of nine times on Thursday night during the Titans’ 20-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It marked the second straight divisional loss the Titans suffered at the hands of a backup quarterback, which has many wondering if a quarterback change could get this team back on track.
This wouldn’t be a question if the Titans had some no-name backup. This offseason, they went out and signed Ryan Tannehill, who started six seasons for the Miami Dolphins. Mariota has never played a full 16 games, and the Titans missed the playoffs last year due to Mariota’s health issues. Acquiring insurance was a must.
Head coach Mike Vrabel is still confident in the former No. 2 overall pick, however, and says that he wasn’t very close to making a quarterback switch in Week 3. Tannehill was seen stretching with his helmet on during the game on Thursday night, which had many thinking a switch was coming. Vrabel explained why that happened after the game.
“Not very,” Vrabel said when asked how close he came to making a quarterback change, per NFL.com. “He (Tannehill) just can hear the calls when he puts his helmet on.”
Mariota may have held off Tannehill on Thursday night, but many are wondering if a switch could come soon.
The Titans started off the 2019 season with a bang, defeating the offseason champion Cleveland Browns in a 30-point blowout. Mariota threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns — one of those coming from a 75-yard Derrick Henry catch and run off of a screen play. Mariota played fine, but the defense was the reason the Titans started 1-0.
Returning to Nashville in Week 2, many were expecting another win over the Andrew Luck-less Indianapolis Colts. Surprisingly, Jacoby Brissett threw for a career-high three touchdowns while the Titans’ offense sputtered. Thanks to a couple of Adam Vinatieri missed extra points, Tennessee faced just a two-point deficit with 56 seconds left, but the Titans turned the ball over on downs just six plays into the drive. Just another example of how the offense struggled in Week 2. In all, Mariota threw for just 154 yards and one touchdown, as fans left Nissan Stadium wondering if Tannehill could right a few wrongs.
That theory only picked up steam after another hard-to-watch offensive performance in Week 3. The Titans failed to score any points through the first three quarters — the lone touchdown coming from a fourth-quarter run by Henry. Mariota’s 304 yards were a season high, but his individual performance was marred by inaccuracy.
The Titans’ loss to the Jaguars can’t all be blamed on Mariota. According to ESPN’s Turron Davenport, Mariota was pressured a career-high 18 times. There’s no doubt that the offensive line played one of their worst games in recent memory, but some of those quarterback takedowns can be blamed on Mariota for holding onto the ball too long.
It’s still early in the season, but two embarrassing losses in a row should get the coaching staff thinking. If the losses continue, so will the questions about Mariota.