Marcus Mariota is going the wrong way. Yesterday, the Tennessee Titans were shut out at home by the Baltimore Ravens. They failed to score any points despite having no turnovers, because Marcus Mariota was sacked a whopping 11 times. He was sacked more times than he successfully completed a pass.
He is only the third player in the last 20 years to be sacked 11+ times in a game, joining Donovan McNabb and Greg McElroy. He’s the first QB to be sacked double digit times and complete fewer passes than sacks taken since Guido Merkens in 1987. Merkens was a replacement player during the NFL lockout, who had played some wide receiver previously in the NFL.
The Tennessee starting quarterbacks have thrown for less than 150 passing yards in five of the six games, with the other being Mariota throwing for over 300 yards in an overtime win against the Eagles. That looked like it might be the turnaround point for Mariota. Now, it looks like a bizarre outlier in what has been a pretty dispiriting two seasons. The Titans have 172 net passing yards, combined, over the last two weeks in losses to the Bills and Ravens. They’ve scored 12 points.
This hasn’t been a sudden onset thing either. Mariota has dealt with injuries, but over the last two seasons, he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. His yards per attempt has dipped below league average, and now, he’s taking a lot of sacks. After what looked like a breakout season in his second year in the league, when he threw 26 touchdown passes versus 9 interceptions, the former second overall pick has regressed.
The Titans reaching the playoffs last year, and Mariota making some key plays, masked the underlying truth about his dip. There are also plenty of explanations/excuses, including injuries, limited offensive personnel, and coaching changes. But in a league where young, talented quarterbacks look to be introducing themselves as the next wave, Marcus Mariota now feels like an afterthought, and he won’t turn 25 for two more weeks.