Marcus Mariota will be Top 10 QB - @AmeenKnows
The Hooplah over Marcus Mariota
This is an article of firsts so I want you to bear with me. This is my first piece for Scattered Thoughts and also my first NFL article. I'm not claiming to be a football expert so please, put down the pitchforks.
Bright Decision Maker:
Marcus Mariota has been an starting NFL Quarterback for 2 seasons and I consider him to be among the League's best decision makers. I'm not a big stats kind of guy because that's too black and white for me but there are a lot of numbers that support my case. In the Redzone, Mariota is money. According to Profootballreference.com, Mariota was one out of 8 Quarterbacks with a minimum of 50 pass attempts inside the 20 Yard line without an interception. Among these QBs, Mariota had the second highest completion percentage behind Tannehill from 20 Yards and under. However when that number moves into the 10, Mariota has the highest percentage in the entire league (minimum: 50 attempts) at 69%. Mariota scored 18 of his 26 Touchdowns in the Redzone. He doesn't hold the ball long despite being ranked in the top half amongst QBs with the most time to throw. On his best days there is zero hesitation once he finds the open read.
One of Mariota's biggest knocks against him was whether or not he could throw the deep ball when needed. That weakness appeared very prominently in his first season. According to PFF, on Pass Attempts of 20+ Yards, Mariota finished his rookie season with a QB Rating of 32.8. That's good for dead last. During the 2016 season he bumped that up to an astounding 101.2. I'm not entirely sure how PFF adjusts its QB Rating but it ranked Mariota 12/34 Qualifying Quarterbacks. Mariota's stats on the season for the deep ball were: 23/48, 711 yards, 6/2 TD-INT ratio and 116.3 QB Rating by NFL.com standards.
Marcus Mariota is far from a Game Manager. He's not afraid to launch the deep ball or take risks. People focus too much on the black and white stats because he hasn't thrown for 4,000 yards like the elite QBs but the truth is the Titans don't need him to throw for 4K. The Titans Front Office has done a wonderful job surrounding Mariota with pieces to alleviate the pressure from his shoulders. He has two All Pro Talents protecting him at Tackle in Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin. He has DeMarco Murray and Derek Henry who combined for 17 Total Touchdowns. He has a very talented Tight End in Delanie Walker and they went out and drafted Corey Davis in the first round. So with all this talent around him he has the ability to continue the grow and test his limits where as the poster child for Game Managing, Alex Smith, is a veteran who knows what he can and can't do and sticks to it.
Mariota is one of the game's least talk about Quarterbacks because let's be honest, no one cares about Tennessee. However he has the pieces around him to make an even greater jump from last season. What he has to do is also become better at ball security outside of the Redzone. Despite being one of the game's best decision makers, Mariota has a TD/INT ratio of 8/9. He also lost 5 of his 9 fumbles. I mean 9 interceptions isn't bad over 15 games but having more Interceptions than Touchdowns outside of the Redzone is something that can be worked on. Hey, Aaron Rodgers went 9/7 with his ratio. He also needs to get a better feel for pressure. When the pocket begins to tighten up, he drops his eyes which makes it easier for him to be sacked. This has become a problem for all mobile Quarterbacks at times, but if Mariota can just keep his focus, move his feet and get the ball out quickly his 22nd ranked DVOA under pressure may be as high as his less pressured rating (5th). His mechanics also turn to complete shit when under pressure. If you have time, Google "Marcus Mariota interception vs Texans" the very first headline is all that needs to be said. But it's not often that Mariota faces pressure so if he can hone his craft against pressure and protect the ball, pretty soon Super Mariota will be edging into your top 10 lists.