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Archive for the tag “Marcus Mariota”

The Tennessee Titans Take A Chance With The Mike Mularkey Hire

 (Photos by Donn Jones Photography)

(Photos by Donn Jones Photography)

The Tennessee Titans were on the search for a new head coach. They fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt during the season after a 3-20 start to his coaching career there. And he was replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach Mike Mularkey. The interim coach led them to a 2-7 record, as the team played uneven at best. Along with the Titans searching for a new head coach, they were also looking for a new general manager, as they had fired Ruston Webster from that position as soon as the season ended. They were able to find their general manager, but the head coach was still in question. Would they keep interim coach Mike Mularkey, or would they hire someone outside the organization. The Titans interview former Bills coach Doug Marrone and also defensive coordinator Ray Horton for the positon. But in the end, the Titans brass seemed to like one candidate in particular: Mularkey. And on Saturday, the Titans announced that they will be taking the interim tag of Mularkey and naming him the permanent head coach. The veteran NFL coach is getting his third chance as a head coach.

The positive thing about the move is that franchise quarterback Marcus Mariotta likes the hire. It may not seem like a lot, but the youngster is the face of the franchise and you want to make sure he is happy. Keeping Mularkey in Nashville means that there is some continuity there for the offense. Mularkey made some subtle changes offensively when he was named the head coach. One thing he did was try to exploit matchups. If tight end Delanie Walker had a mismatch, Mularkey would scheme the plays to get him open. And the same went for other players that were on the field for the team. Another thing that Mularkey did was use Mariota’s legs more. At the beginning of the season, it looked like Ken Whisenhunt would not use the mobility of Mariota to the team’s advantage. As far as the interim now permanent head coach, he seemed to use his mobility to put pressure on the opponents. And even though the rookie quarterback got hurt, he is still better suited to put pressure on opponents with his feet and his arm.

Even though the continuity is here, there are definitely some concerns. The first has to be the lack of success Mularkey has had when being a head coach. When he was in Buffalo in the 2004 and 2005 season, he posted a 9-7 record followed up by a 5-11 record in 2005. Mularkey ended up getting another shot at being a head coach in 2012 with Jacksonville. And that second shot lasted all of one season. The team only one two games that season and Mularkey was not a hit among his players. He reportedly was so strict on them for no apparent reason and in the end, the ownership decided to move in a different direction quickly. With Mularkey here, the first thing he did was change the days they wear pads in practice. That is not a big change and he stated that his reason for doing so was to make the team more physical here. But what if this is just the beginning of him asserting his control a little too much over the team? We don’t know what to expect on his third head coaching job, but we do know what has happened in the past. And that has not been very good.

Mularkey is getting handed the keys to a franchise, but he will not do well without a general manager that is willing to get pieces in Nashville via the draft and free agency. As much as this team has right now, they need much more. For example, they need to add some pieces along their offensive line. But speaking to the fans, the franchise is not very good right now. The fanbase is starving for some signs of life and maybe a winning record. With the hiring back of Mularkey, many do not have confidence in the organization to get better. Mularkey has a tough task ahead of him here. He has to rebuild a team and win over a fanbase at the same time. He has some good tools to work with in tight end Delanie Walker and quarterback Marcus Mariota offensively. And defensively, he has to hope he can hang on to defensive coordinator Ray Horton and associate head coach Dick LeBeau. Both had that defense improving sans the last two games. The Titans have an uphill climb and it will be interesting to see if Mularkey is able to spark some change or become part of the problem here.

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Relax NFL Fans! It’s Only Been One Game!

The Titans's offense celebrates a score in their 42-14 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports)

The Titans’s offense celebrates a score in their 42-14 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL football season is now officially started as Week One is in the books. Some teams had some surprising results. And for other teams, there were some downright disappointing play. Along with the wins and losses were some fans that were jubilant in victory. And of course, there were some that were dejected with the performances of their teams. But in all of that, there are always fans that take it above and beyond the normal reactions. And in this social media world, these fans show up everywhere and tend to go overboard. But there is some news they all may want to hear: it is only Week One. Teams have played either one bad or good game, but there is still room for change. After all, there is 15 more games to play.

One example of a team that played well in Week One is the Tennessee Titans. They won 42-14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and were the toast of Nashville, Tennessee with their performance. Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota shined in his debut, going 13/16 for 209 yards with four touchdown passes. He dissected the Tampa Bay defense with his mobility and touch through the air. And likewise, the Titans defense was up to par, putting pressure on Tampa Bay quarterback and number one overall pick Jameis Winston and forcing him into two interceptions, one which was returned for a touchdown. The team looked solid and did not make many mistakes and their performance caught the eye of many across the country. But let’s not get too caught up in the performance of the team and remember who they were playing. Despite the Bucs having some different parts and a new rookie at quarterback, they are still aren’t a good team. Outside of linebacker LeVante David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, there is not much team speed the Bucs offer at all. And this defense is largely the same one that gave up 56 points to the Atlanta Falcons on national television last season. Defensively, the Titans were going against an offense that has some talent, but has not shown up in a long time. And part of the reason that team has not shown up is because of the offensive line. Tampa Bay has thrown money time and time again at their offensive line only to be disappointed in the result. And this past Sunday, they really could not protect Jameis Winston at all. Of course he made mistakes that had nothing to do with them, but that Tampa Bay offensive line just is not very stable at all. The Bucs can get better over the year and may end up being better than last year. But the reality is the line is bad, the team was 2-14 last season and the Titans beat a pretty bad team. The Titans were a bad team themselves last season, but no way one game signals they are ready to make the playoffs, so their needs to be a tempering of some enthusiasm here about the Titans and also the performance of Mariota against the Bucs.

The Tennessee Titans weren’t the only team to experience the overreaction of fans. The Seattle Seahawks were the team many picked to again represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season. They had defense, a running game and also solid special teams. And with Russell Wilson at quarterback, many expected them to handle business in Week One on their way to getting back on track from the Super Bowl loss. But the St. Louis Rams decided they had other ideas. They fought the Seahawks hard all game long and ended up winning in overtime 34-31 after a big fourth-down stop of running back Marshawn Lynch. The immediate reaction from some was to wonder if the Seahawks have fallen already. The teams did have some miscues and is missing their defensive leader in Kam Chancellor (holding out), but they were largely in the game and could have easily won. Many look at the Seahawks and what they are missing, but they also need to realize that the Rams are not as bad as some think. The Rams totaled six sacks on the game against the Seahawks. Many deemed that an indictment of the Seahawks’ offensive line. Their line may not be that great, but the Rams defensive line is near the top in the NFL in sacks. They have a collection of five first-round draft picks on their defensive line and they are also a team that can bring pressure from all different vantage points as well when they want to. So even though the Seahawks offensive line may be in limbo, it may also not be as bad as portrayed in the first game of the season either. Defensively, Dion Bailey stepped into the shoes of Chancellor at safety and he did not exactly play the best. He was out of position and was beaten time and time again by the St. Louis Rams tight ends, including on the game-tying touchdown by Lance Kendricks that sent the game into overtime. But all in all, the Rams do have two athletic and tough matchups at tight end. Kendrick can line up at any spot and wreak havoc on teams. And as far as the other tight end of the Rams, Jared Cook, he is pretty much a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. Those two will cause trouble for any defense let alone a young safety trying to feel Chancellor’s shoes. Bailey has a challenge next game going against Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, but he could definitely play better than he did in this one. And the whole Seattle defense has been known to rise up when doubt starts to arise in them. After one game, this defense has earned the right to get it going in the next game versus Green Bay. Surely Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and the whole Seahawks defense are licking their chops to get back out there this weekend.

The NFL season has ebbs and flows. There will be some bigtime hurts and some bigtime triumphs. But in no way does one week make the season. In fact, it take a couple weeks for most teams to find out who they truly are and make adjustments to who they want to be. So those who are already speaking doom and gloom and those who are thinking Super Bowl already may want to pump the brakes. Give it some time. Not one Super Bowl was won or lost in Week One.

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The Future Of Tennessee Titans Quarterback Zach Mettenberger

Zach Mettenberger is a hot commodity in the NFL. (photo courtesy of James Kenney/AP)

Zach Mettenberger is a hot commodity in the NFL. (photo courtesy of James Kenney/AP)

The Tennessee Titans looked sharp in their second preseason game. They played tougher, harder and seemed to be flying around the field on their way to a 27-14 win over the St. Louis Rams. Running back Bishop Sankey ran hard the entire game and that was a great sight. But what was an even better sight was the play of the quarterbacks. Rookie starter Marcus Mariota was off on a few throws, but he looked much better in the pocket and he made a great play sprinting to his right to find a wide-open Craig Stevens 35 yards down the field. Zach Mettenberger was equally impressive when he received his reps. He matched Mariota by going 7/9 passing. And he also had an impressive throw when he threaded threw a dart between two St. Louis Rams defenders for a touchdown to tight end Chase Coffman. Both had good games and drew good reviews from those who watched them. But for Mettenberger, he knows all his play is only to lock up the backup quarterback job. When Mariota was drafted, that pretty much ended any chance Mettenberger had of being a starter for the Titans this season. So with that being said, there are many that are looking at Mettenberger and having thoughts of what he would look like on their team. With many thinking he would be attractive for their teams, the Titans have to evaluate what they should do with him. They have a commodity in Mettenberger and he could definitely help them should Mariota go down. But he could also help them in another aspect as well.

The Titans are a team that is still in the building phase. Last season, it seems like they hit rock bottom. And with the drafting of Mariota, there is hope that they are on their way to rebuilding the team. Any team that wants to rebuild needs as many weapons and draft picks as possible along with smart free agent signings. Part of gaining those picks they need is recognizing is getting what they can for players that are commodities. Mettenberger’s arm has many franchises intrigued. Teams like the Jets and potentially the Bills should be giving the Titans a call and making a play for him. If the Titans are to get rid of him, they should not move him for less than a 1st round pick. It may seem like a high ransom for a quarterback that has just shown flashes of talent, but the Jets and Bills could be at the mercy of the Titans. Tennessee could realistically hold on to Mettenberger until the trade deadline and trade him if they wanted to. But the one thing the Titans want to be careful about doing is holding on to Mettenberger too long. If they allow him to languish on the bench behind Mariota, the closer the 2016 NFL Draft will be. And at that point, the Titans could open themselves up for him to drop in demand. That could potentially mean they miss out on the talent they could have acquired like a first-round offensive lineman that could help make their line better. And at that point, the Titans could be stuck with him.

Just like it would be valuable to let Mettenberger go, it could also be valuable to keep him. Mariota is going to be the starter, but what if he ends up taking some hits early on that force him to the sideline. At that point, the Titans would have Mettenberger step in and be the next option. If the Titans were to get rid of Mettenberger, they would be stuck with Charlie Whitehurst as their primary backup. Nothing against Charlie Whitehurst, but he has been a career backup for a reason. Whitehurst knows the game and he knows Coach Ken Whisenhunt’s system from his time under him in San Diego. But when it comes to making the throws to win games, Whitehurst is not the answer to that equation. In Mettenberger, he could make the bigtime throws that winning quarterbacks can make. The only question mark about him is can he get it done consistently if he has to come in to relieve Mariota should he get injured. Judging how he looks form last season to this season, Mettenberger looks more mature and ready to take on the challenge of leading a team. But of course he will have to wait his turn while Mariota is tabbed as the franchise quarterback to lead the Titans back to relevance. If he is to get his opportunities, he must come through not only for his team but for his value as a quarterback in the NFL.

The talk about Mettenberger will continue as the season goes on. If Mariota does well, the talk will get louder that the Titans need to trade him. If Mariota struggles, then some fans may call for Mettenberger to come into the game. Eventually, the Titans will have to make a choice whether they need Mettenberger here or not. But one thing is clear: this will more than likely be his last year as a member of the Titans. Some team will be hungry for a quarterback after this season. And with NFL teams always looking for the next good quarterback, they will approach the Titans for Mettenberger. The only question will be if the Titans will trade him at the right time or not.

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The General’s Breakdown Of WR Dorial Green-Beckham

Dorial Green-Beckham has a bunch of potential. But what does that mean for Year One with the Titans? (photo courtesy of www.titansonline.com)

Dorial Green-Beckham has a bunch of potential. But what does that mean for Year One with the Titans? (photo courtesy of http://www.titansonline.com)

Dorial Green-Beckham was one of the most talented wide receivers in the country when he was heading into his senior season in high school. And he shocked many when he decided to stay in state and play for the University of Missouri. Many pegged him as the next star wide receiver to hit college football. But unfortunately, things did not work out that way. After two marijuana arrests and one arrest involving forcible entry and allegedly pushing a woman down the stairs, the university had enough. In two years, Green-Beckham had gone from a promising young receiver to someone that NFL teams may want to stay away from when he entered the NFL. Beckham would transfer to the University of Oklahoma and apply for a waiver to apply immediately, but that was denied by the NCAA. He then decided to enter the NFL Draft after sitting out the entire season and many were skeptical of him. With his checkered collegiate past, the risk versus reward dynamic was in play. He was viewed as a talented, young receiver, but many wondered could he put his past issues behind to make a career for himself. When the draft came around, there were some fans that wanted their favorite teams to draft him and others that were not sure what to make of him. Well, the Titans saw enough of him that they decided to take a chance and draft the big receiver in the second round (40th overall). And now the clock has started on what he can or cannot be.

The potential is there. At Titans camp, Green-Beckham is easy to spot. He is the 6’6”, 237 pound wide receiver that can be seen splitting out wide. He is physically imposing lining up out there and could make some things happen with his speed and his size. But there are a few things he may want to refine first. Green-Beckham is a big man, but that is not enough in the NFL. Beckham missed a lot of time when he was out at Oklahoma. And unfortunately, the time he had off does not mean he was able to refine everything at the level he needs to. An example is when he was running a fade pattern during Sunday’s practice. He has all kinds of ability, but there were some technique things he needed work on like his release on the fade pattern. Free-agent acquisition Harry Douglas could be seen at practice showing Green-Beckham a better technique to release off the line of scrimmage. Green-Beckham was listening to Douglas and hopefully he will be able to put those tips into play on the field, but these are part of the growing pains of a rookie wide receiver. And with Green-Beckham, he will be a little bit behind the curve because of sitting out the season last year. The fade patter is not the only thing he needs technique work on and that will all come with practice and time on the field and in practice.

Another issue that Green-Beckham may have is adjustments on routes. In the NFL, coverages are constantly disguised to confuse offenses. Many think the disguises are just for the quarterbacks, but that could not be further from the case. Wide receivers also have to read where the coverage is as well. If the wide receiver is able to read that, then that will tell them what depth to run a route, if a route needs to be changed or what kind of release the receiver needs to take. Dorial Green-Beckham played against some good defenses in the Southeastern Conference, but that does not compare to the defenses he will see every week in the NFL. Green-Beckham ran a few routes that looked like they were not at the correct depth for the coverage on Sunday. At game speed, that would have been a problem for him because he was not able to get open for his quarterback. But that is what they have practice for. Over time, he will have to learn to make those adjustments as he is playing the game and not just to run what the team calls for him to run. The more he learns to read defenses, the better he will be as a route-runner. And when Green-Beckham and the quarterback are both on the same page, the magic will happen for him on the field when the games really count.

Green-Beckham has some things that he has to learn, but his physical skills are something that you cannot teach. He can sky for the football, as witnessed here:

Beckham has some amazing physical abilities.

Beckham has some amazing physical abilities.

Looking at the Titans wide receivers, they only have one that has height other than him in Justin Hunter. And with Hunter potentially facing suspension because of an incident in Virginia, Green-Beckham may end up being the only size they have at wide receiver to start the season. If this is the case, why not use Green-Beckham in the redzone? The young wide receiver can contribute in that way while learning the nuances of playing wide receiver. And for a team that needs to take advantage of all their weapons, Green-Beckham would help them be able to finish drives instead of their usual way of finishing; field goals. You could just imagine him catching the football in the back of the endzone over the top of a smaller defensive back. And with his hands, it would not surprise me if he came down with the catch if the football is anywhere in his area. Another way he can help contribute to start the season at wide receiver is using his physical nature to help spring running backs. Plenty talk about how the running game has to do with the linemen up front, but it has just as much to do with the wide receivers. The safeties and the cornerbacks are the last line of defense when a running back is coming at them. Usually they are the ones that stand in the way of a 5-10 yard gain and a potentially game-breaking play. With Green-Beckham out there, he can definitely use his size to push defensive backs wherever he wants them to go. By doing that, guys like quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Bishop Sankey will appreciate him even more for the long runs he will help spring. And the blocking on run plays will also help the Titans in play-action situations when receivers, like Green-Beckham, are looking to make big plays.

Dorial Green-Beckham has all the tools to be a very good wide receiver in the NFL. His size, speed and hands are something many receivers would die to have. But like all wide receivers, he has to learn the nuances of the game along with getting up to speed on the offense. Once he is able to do so, he and Marcus Mariota could be one dangerous quarterback/wide receiver combo. And if that happens, that gives the Titans two solid young blocks to help build their organization.

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The General’s Breakdown Of Titans QB Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota has one game under his belt. But what was seen at practice can tell you what else we can expect or should see from him this season. (photo courtesy of Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean)

Marcus Mariota has one game under his belt. But what was seen at practice can tell you what else we can expect or should see from him this season. (photo courtesy of Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean)

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were the top two quarterbacks taken in 2015 NFL Draft. Both were compared and contrasted leading all the way up to the draft in Chicago. The Tennessee Titans had an interest in both quarterbacks, but Tampa Bay helped them decide which one they were taking. The Bucs picked Winston 1st overall and that left Mariota going to the Titans. Despite having other needs besides quarterback, the Titans felt he was the best selection for him. And with Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt basically handing the reigns over to him when he was drafted, the speculation began on how Mariota would perform. After Week 1 of the preseason, the NFL got its first look at Mariota and the results are mixed so far. He was intercepted on a screen pass and was stripped while throwing a pass (result was a touchdown for the Atlanta Falcons) during his first moments in the NFL. But after those two events, he bounced back to lead the Titans to a score before exiting the game. All in all, there are some that are taking a lot of value out of what happened and others that think the sky is falling due to the miscues he was a part of. It’s still early to say what a quarterback will be, but there are some concerns when it comes to Mariota early.

When checking out Titans practice live today, you could tell that Mariota is a very good athlete. He was the best athlete to play the quarterback position at Oregon. Even though we did not get to see it much today, he is definitely one that strikes fear in opponents already with his speed. But in the NFL, you have to be able to pass in the pocket. Those skills may come in time for Mariota. But as far as Mariota presently, he still needs some refinement of his footwork. He has improved over the time he was in college to this very point, but it almost seems as if he is still adjusting to coming from under center and going through his progressions while doing his footwork. The footwork was something that was to be expected, but it is also something that could get him in trouble as well. Over time it will get to the level it needs to be, but for right now, it is subpar. His footwork is a direct reflection of his accuracy. And as seem by some of his passes at training camp today, he was not on point with it and it affected some of his throws. For example, he missed tight end Delanie Walker when he was wide open in 11-on-11 drills. That cannot happen in the game. He has to complete that pass because that is what starting NFL quarterbacks do. Eventually he will get it, but he just does not have the consistency in doing so right now. And as a result of him not having the consistent footwork, he did not look all the way comfortable in the pocket as a quarterback.

Another issue he will have is one that no one is really talking about. Mariota was throwing a deep bomb today in practice, but there was one problem: no one could see him. Mariota is listed at 6’4” and 222 pounds in the program. But seeing him in person, he is closer to 6’2” than 6’4”. Just to give you an example, take a look at this picture:

Marcus Mariota and Zach Mettenberger relax during a break in the action.

Marcus Mariota and Zach Mettenberger relax during a break in the action.

The quarterback next to Mariota in this picture with his helmet halfway off is Zach Mettenberger. He is listed at 6’5” and 224 pounds. That is Mariota to the right of him in the picture. Now no one can tell me that he is the same size at Mettenberger or even close. The issue with Mariota’s size comes into play when he is dropping back like he did today. Mariota cannot see where he is throwing the football at all in that instance. And because of that, there may be more issues like what we saw today: a pass to wide receiver Harry Douglas that was not in his radius to catch. On the other hand, Mettenberger threw a deep pass and you could see him looking over his linemen and completing a long bomb to his receiver in stride. Size is something that cannot be taught and is only given in the genetics the player has. Unless Mariota has a growth spurt to meet 6’4”, there is not a way he is going to see over his line to complete a pass. And he effectively will be hoping a receiver finds it more than him having confidence he is throwing the pass on the money in these types of situations.

Even though there are certain issues short and long-term there with Mariota, all hope is not lost. There are ways the Titans can help mask the deficiencies of Mariota at this time in his career. Mariota may not have the best accuracy in the pocket, but he is actually very solid when throwing on the run. At the University of Oregon, he was used to throwing on the run and making things happen with his feet and arm. By designing some plays that allow him to throw on the run and put pressure on defenses, it will allow Mariota to be effective while he develops his pocket passing over time. And as far as his size, the best thing the Titans can do is create throwing lanes. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been a master of maneuvering throwing lanes ever since he has been in the NFL. Mariota is not as short as Drew Brees, but the throwing lanes would allow for him to see things a little more clearly and also allow for him to see his progressions better. Mariota is a smart quarterback and you can already see him going through his progressions in 7-on-7 drills, but when the game action is there, he must be able to see all his weapons with all 22 players on the field.

Mariota is a hard worker and was seen by fans and media doing some conditioning and working on fade routes after practice with his fellow quarterbacks. And over time and with hard work, Mariota may get the footwork and other tools necessary to be a very good quarterback in the NFL one day. But in the meantime, the Titans need to help him out offensively by adjusting a few things to help him be as effective as he can be right now. And if they do so, then maybe the Titans can surprise some people. Only time will tell what happens.

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Marcus Mariota And The Ghosts Of Oregon QB Past

Marcus Mariota not only is set to tackle the NFL, but the ghosts of the quarterback position at Oregon (photo courtesy of www.usatoday.com)

Marcus Mariota not only is set to tackle the NFL, but the ghosts of the quarterback position at Oregon (photo courtesy of http://www.usatoday.com)

The NFL Draft is finally upon us. Plenty of future NFL players will be waiting and watching to see who selects them to begin their NFL journeys. And for a select few, they get to walk out on the stage after they are selected by a team and sport their new team’s hat. But there are two players that will not be present at the Draft that many will be talking about. That would be the top quarterbacks in the draft, Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Both have chosen to stay at home for the draft. Winston is staying at home in Hueytown, Alabama to be around family and around his grandmother, who would not have been able to go with him to travel to Chicago to see her grandson drafted. For Mariota, he said he was “important to him personally and culturally” to be at home and around his people in Hawaii when he is selected. While Michael Irvin may feel both are big-timing the NFL, both have their own personal reasons for not coming and that can be respected. But what happens when both are selected and it’s time to perform. In the case of Winston, he has had moments where he is too confident in his arm and takes too many chances, but he also has had some great moments where he put the team on his back and led them to a win. Some feel he may be a risk character-wise, but many scouts are not concerned about his play on the field. But in the case of Mariota., it seems that there is not a consensus on him. Some believe he will be a good pro quarterback, while others think he could be a bust. Mariota is hearing the criticism whether he acknowledges it or not and deep inside he is probably itching to make the doubters wrong. But other than the perception he has right now, he is also battling the quarterback perception of Oregon.

Over the years, Oregon has become one of the teams that everyone loves to see. Their flashy uniforms tend to grasp the attention of high school kids and college football fans alike along with their winning ways. But what also grasps everyone’s attention these days is the speed they run their offense. It seems like they are running at breakneck speed when they are on the field. During the last two years, that offense has been ran by the talented Mariota. He would make things happen with his feet and also make things happen with the short passing game. He is a talented quarterback, but we have seen many a talented quarterback line up for Oregon before heading to the NFL. Going all the way back to Akili Smith, Oregon has not had a successful quarterback play in the NFL. Players that have played quarterback since Akili ar Oregon are A.J. Feeley, Joey Harrington, Jason Fife, Kellen Clemens, Dennis Dixon, Brady Leaf, Jeremiah Masoli, Justin Roper, Darron Thomas and the aforementioned Mariota. Out of these names, there are not many that have had any success at the professional level. Of all these names, Harrington was the one that had the most notoriety. He was drafted 3rd overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. Many thought that he would be a solid NFL quarterback because of the supposed skills that he possessed and his ability to think the game. But whether it was due to the dysfunction of the organization in Detroit or the bad play of Harrington, he never succeeded and he lasted only a few seasons before he was done in Detroit. He would go on to play in Miami and Atlanta in his career, but he never lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he came out of school.

As for Mariota, he is definitely more talented than Harrington ever way. In fact, you could say that he is the best quarterback prospect to ever come out of there. But the stigma of the past will be something that will haunt him even though he probably has not thought about it. And with each bad pass and decision he makes, the reminders of what Akili Smith and Joey Harrington were will remain stuck in our minds. For Mariota to get rid of those stigmas, he has to come out of the gates strong. The biggest thing said about Mariota is that he has not played in a pro style offense. In the NFL, he will have to prove that he can handle the pro style offense. That means he will have to learn how to read defenses even more than he did in college. At Oregon, he only had one maybe two reads and then the decision was made. At the pro level, there will be more than that to read. He will have to see what the linebackers and secondary are doing and how they are adjusting to the motions and alignments of his team. The only way he could get out of having to read all these things is if he goes to Philly, where he would be reunited with his former college head coach, Chip Kelly. Another thing that he will have to do in the NFL is prove he can hit all the throws. At Oregon, he wasn’t asked to do so as much, but in the pros he will be asked to hit the difficult throws like the long outs. He has to be able to hit the difficult throws with regularity as well as the routine ones to make that stigma disappear as well. The more regular those throws come to him, the more he will not be compared to the former Oregon quarterbacks that played in the NFL.

Today is the day the world changes for Mariota. No longer will he be known as an Oregon Duck. From here forward he will be known as the next former Oregon quarterback to make it to the NFL. And whether he wants it or not, he will be charged with erasing the stigma that has stuck with Oregon quarterbacks since Akili Smith and Joey Harrington. Can he erase the stigma or will he be adding to it is the question that he will be answering the rest of his career potentially. Is he ready for the task?

Phillip Rivers potentially on his way out of San Diego?

The veteran quarterback of the Chargers could be on the move very soon. (photo courtesy of www.breitbart.com)

The veteran quarterback of the Chargers could be on the move very soon. (photo courtesy of http://www.breitbart.com)

The Tennessee Titans had another down season in 2014. The proposed hope that a new coach brought to the team ended in a whimper and some saying that this team was “the same old Titans”. The team finished with a highly disappointing record of 2-14 and effectively secured the 2nd overall pick in the draft. And adding to the pain of last season, the Titans saw their oft-injured quarterback Jake Locker again suffer injuries that kept him out of the lineup. The former 8th overall pick in the 2011 draft could never stay healthy and that along with inconsistent play when he did make it on the field led ultimately to the Titans not picking up his option this offseason. Locker has since announced his retirement from the NFL. Tennessee used a few other options at quarterback, rookie Zack Mettenberger and veteran Charlie Whitehurst, but the Titans seem to not be so sure on what either will become. So with the 2nd pick in the draft, there is some intrigue as to what the Titans will do. Over the offseason, there have been a few things kicked around about how the Titans will use the 2nd overall pick. Names like University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and University of Southern California defensive lineman Leonard Williams have been tossed around as the answer for what the Titans may do. But over the last few weeks, there has been another scenario that has seemingly come out of nowhere.

Rumors have been circulating that San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers could be on the move to Tennessee. In the rumored situation, the Titans would trade their 2nd overall pick this season to the San Diego Chargers for the rights to Rivers. Many may wonder why the Chargers would be willing to make such a deal. But there are a couple factors that come into play. Rivers is searching for a new contract and it seems as if the organization is not really focused on making that happen. Although it is not clear how far they are apart on the contract, it is clear that both sides are not coming to any type of agreement as it stands at this point. And if the Chargers are not able to get him to sign a new deal that both can agree with, then Rivers could be playing out the string to his career in San Diego. But let’s just say the Chargers and Rivers miraculously come to an agreement, then the Chargers are still not out of the woods just yet. The stadium issue has taken on a life of its own this offseason. The Chargers and the city of San Diego have been playing this stadium game for almost two decades now. And at this point, it looks like a new stadium may not happen in San Diego at all. If that does not happen, there is another option that has come about. The city of Carson, California, which is not far from Los Angeles, is reportedly trying to use the idea of building a brand new stadium to lure a NFL franchise there. And with the issues that the Chargers organization has had getting a new stadium, that would be a perfect fit for them without having to do a huge relocation. It seems like a good solution for the team except for one thing. Phillip Rivers does not want to move to the Los Angeles area from San Diego with his family. And if the move to the Los Angeles area happens, then the Chargers may as well trade him because he does not want to be there. The Titans would offer Rivers a place he would like to play and they would also offer him potentially a big contract to be their quarterback to lead them forward. But what does a trade like this mean for both teams on the field.

In the case of the Chargers, they would definitely be starting to rebuild offensively with the trading of Rivers. And if they are to complete a trade with the Titans for the rights to the 2nd overall pick, they would likely have a rookie starting quarterback in Marcus Mariota next season. With the addition of Mariota, another dimension of offense will be added to the San Diego team. Mariota’s best weapon right now and going into his rookie season will be his legs. Some have compared the way he can run to the way current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick can get out the game. And you see what kind of pressure Kaepernick can put on a defense with his legs. As for Mariota, It will take some time for him to learn the reads and get comfortable with the offense, but his legs will always be something that he trusts. Unfortunately, the passing game will take a hit as a result. Tight end Antonio Gates has been used to Rivers knowing where he is and fitting in passes in tight spaces to get him the football. Mariota coming in will not have that type of relationship with Gates that Rivers did, so it may take some time for Mariota to learn how and when to get it to him. The same goes for wide receiver Keenan Allen. The running game may be the bigger focus to begin the Mariota era should he get picked by the Chargers assuming they trade Rivers to the Chargers. With this trade, it would also put a ton of pressure on the San Diego defense. They would need to be even better than they were last season to carry the team in more stretches. If they can do so, then the Chargers would be able to get away with a few things while Mariota learns and matures in the NFL.

For Phillip Rivers, he would get a chance to bring his family near home. Rivers is from Alabama and a move to Tennessee would be most welcomed for him. When he is not playing football, he is either studying or with his kids, as family is very important to him. But even on the field, the move would be something that Rivers would welcome. Rivers would be reunited with his former offensive coordinator in San Diego, Ken Whisenhunt. The two had good chemistry together and it would be pretty conceivable that they would pick up where they left off in San Diego. The addition of Rivers would also bring some stability to the quarterback position for Tennessee. The last few years the team has had some inconsistent quarterback play from the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Zach Mettenberger, Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst. The veteran Rivers would provide veteran leadership, great play and overall better skill at the position than the Titans currently have and have had in a long time. And with weapons like shifty wide receiver Kendall Wright and tight end Delanie Walker, the cupboard will not be barren for Rivers on the offensive side of the football. The only issue that Rivers may see is the offensive line. Tennessee quarterbacks did not have a ton of time last year behind a line that was consistently giving up pressure. If the Titans can get that solved this offseason along with this potential trade happening, then the Titans could be looking better going into next season.

Both San Diego and the Titans have their reasons for potentially taking this deal. But ultimately, it would be one that would help the Titans more immediately than the Chargers. And if the Titans are able to get Rivers to sign a new deal, provided this proposed trade happens, then they could be as solid as they have been at quarterback since Steve McNair was here. The move would also get them one step closer to turning it around and putting a winner on the field also. For the Chargers, the results may not be seen at the beginning of the proposed trade, but the trade would be judged more by what Mariota becomes rather than his immediate impact on the team. Again, the trade has not happened and it still could possibly not happen. But if it does, the Titans and Chargers will get something they want.

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