NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Virtually every assistant coach on the Titans staff has raved about Marcus Mariota when given the chance.
I spoke to assistant head coach/tight ends Mike Mularkey about several things Thursday and we hit on the rookie quarterback's impact for the tight ends. Mularkey used Anthony Fasano’s 19-yard touchdown catch right at the goal line in Cleveland to illustrate.
“His accuracy is pretty damn good,” Mularkey said. “Our guys know that that ball, like Anthony on the touchdown, there is a good chance that’s going to be in flight, so you’ve got to be on your toes and get your eyes around quickly and track the ball as quickly as you can.
“He’s not waiting for you to get open, he’s expecting you to get open. And he’s throwing it like you’re going to get open. It’s the anticipation and the timing and then where it is when it does get on you, it’s pretty much on target. That’s rare, his ability to do that. Matt Ryan is the last guy I was around that had such anticipation.”
Pass pressure has been an issue for the Titans so far, as they’ve given up a league-high nine sacks. They hope that Sunday when they gave up seven proves to be an aberration.
One encouraging thing is that even amid all the pressure, Mariota wasn’t seeing it when it wasn’t there, according to one veteran film watcher.
Mariota leads the league in passer rating, a simple measure of a quarterback’s work. It factors in only completion percentage, yards, touchdowns and interceptions.
Mariota is at 129.9 (of a possible 158.3).
QBR is a more nuanced metric that takes into account far more factors.
In that stat, Mariota is 11th in the league at 63.1 out of 100.
Why the difference?
Per ESPN Stats and Info, three issues account from the drop.
Mariota has been sacked a league-high nine times and has three fumbles, two of them lost, on those sacks.
He has not run much. A couple of quarterbacks ahead of him have done far more with their legs than Mariota’s five rushes for 25 yards and two first downs.
A good share of the Titans’ passing yards have come after the catch. Tennessee’s 6.2 yards after catch per completion is the eighth-highest in the NFL, and QBR divides credit in those situations.
The Titans and Mariota don’t care about these numbers. They are for us, to help us contextualize how the rookie quarterback and his team are doing.
First and 11th are good in the respective categories.
Far better is what Mularkey and Greg Cosell had to say.