One thing this years training camps will lack is an abundance of QB competitions. Other than in Miami, and maybe Washington, every other team seems to have a certain day 1 starter firmly in place under centre. However, could one develop in Nashville?
Head Coach Mike Vrabel has stated categorically that former Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is the starter for the Titans, and Ryan Tannehill is not. Its still not clear as to why Vrabel felt the need to put out any statement. If Mariota was clearly the starter, would he need to come out and say so?
Entering the league 3 years apart, both QBs have failed to live up to their status as a 1st round draft pick and establish themself as a nailed on franchise QB. Mariota had much more buzz around him coming out of Oregon than Tannehill did coming out of Texas A&M but both were considered as first round prospects. Physically they also matched up with both standing 6’4 and weighing around the 220lb mark. Even their 40 yard dash times were similar at 4.52 and 4.58 respectively, although Tannehill’s was posted at his pro day rather than the combine.
Since entering the NFL Mariota has either missed, or failed to finish, 16 out of a possible 64 regular season games (25%). Tannehill in his 7 season has missed 24 games of a possible 112 (21.4%), including missing the whole 2017 season with an ACL injury.
Mariota boasts a win percentage of 49% in his starts, whilst Tannehill’s sits at a shade above 47.5 %. According to NFL.com Tannehill’s average passer rating sits at 87.0 compared to Mariota’s slight higher 89.7. There isn’t really much between these two.
The signing of Ryan Tannehill may well just be an insurance policy on the part of the Tennesee Titans, give the fact that the absence of Mariota at various points last year led to the Titans having to rely on Blaine Gabbert under centre. The Titans were still on the mix for a wildcard play off slot heading into week 17, and one can’t help wonder if they had better QB play down the stretch they may have just sneaked in.
During the offseason, if they wanted a run of the mill back up QB they could’ve signed anyone, or drafted someone in the later rounds. They didn’t, they went a signed someone, who when fit, is a proven starter at NFL level.
Would it be really that surprising if Tannehill gained the keys to new OC Arthur Smith’s offence at some point this year, either due to injury to, or poor play by, Mariota and failed to hand them back over?