Mike Vrabel couldn’t stand to watch Marcus Mariota any more on Sunday.
With the Tennessee Titans losing 13-0 late in the third quarter, Vrabel pulled Mariota for Ryan Tannehill. Mariota was 7 of 18 for 63 yards and two interceptions. A wild deep throw to the middle of the field that was intercepted led to a Broncos touchdown and got Mariota benched.
The Titans came into this season with questions about the future of Mariota, who is in the last year of his contract. Most quarterbacks who get a big extension don’t also get benched shortly before signing it.
Marcus Mariota has been inconsistent
Mariota has had an up-and-down season. He looked sharp to start the season in a win over the Cleveland Browns. He wasn’t good in Week 2 against the Colts and even worse in Week 3 against the Jaguars. But Mariota rebounded for a huge three-touchdown game against the Falcons. Then the roller coaster headed back down, as the Titans put up seven points in their next seven quarters against the Bills and Broncos.
Mariota got benched for the debacle against the Broncos. It wasn’t a surprise when Vrabel benched him. While the Titans could go back to Mariota next week, it’s clear that Mariota has a lot shorter leash as starting quarterback.
And the Titans might have a hard time figuring out what to do next.
Mariota has struggled past few years
When the Titans traded for Tannehill, the former first-round pick and Miami Dolphins starter, it turned up the heat on Mariota. The Titans kept saying Mariota was their guy, but it was hard to ignore Tannehill behind him.
Mariota, who was the second pick of the 2015 draft, has dealt with many injuries through his career. Also, he hasn’t played well. Perhaps the injuries have taken some of his physical gifts that made him a Heisman Trophy winner and a high draft pick, but the bottom line is he’s now a below-average quarterback prone to bouts of inconsistency.
Mariota will be a free agent after the season. He’ll need to be a lot better to return to Tennessee in 2020.
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