NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After the Titans' blowout win on opening day in Tampa Bay, I wrote about how we hadn’t even seen the running facet of Marcus Mariota's game yet.
We still haven’t.
Through three games, Mariota has run just five times for 25 yards.
The concern as he came into the league was that he might be overly inclined to run considering how much he did so at Oregon.
So far, the reverse is true.
He repeatedly has spoken of how he’s not doing a big equation when considering taking off or making a throw. He relies on his instincts, and they generally seem to be very good.
We’re thinking more about times he didn’t take off when he could have than times he took off when he shouldn’t have.
I like the side of the issue that he and the Titans are on.
Mariota said himself he had room to go on first-and-10 from the Titans 44-yard line on the first play of the second quarter.
Mariota stepped up between the two of them and lofted a ball for Delanie Walker. The tight end had snuck behind linebacker Jerrell Freeman and had the ball been on target, he could have gotten a gain of roughly 20 to 25 yards.
But Mariota could have had a significant gain if he ran.
He talked through that decision after the game.
“I thought I could get over the top of the defender for Delanie,” Mariota said. “If I had been (on target), Delanie would have been by himself and probably could have made a play on it. Just me. Just be myself and you can learn from it. Probably could have got a first-down run on it. I’m not afraid to take those chances with the receivers.”
Ken Whisenhunt said at his Monday press conference it’s a difficult thing to sort through.
“I’m kind of torn with that,” he said. “I mean, he’s doing a pretty good job of throwing the football in the pocket and making some plays. You’re right, there was an opportunity there on that one play where he just missed Delanie to run with it and probably run quite a long ways.
“But had the throw been to Delanie, Delanie probably would have run quite a long ways with it. I really think that that is going to come at some point. I don’t think that we’re going to try to force it. I think he’s doing a really nice job of making some plays in the pocket and we’re going to make some plays going forward. We’ve talked about it though.”
Four plays after Mariota missed Walker, he was intercepted by Dwight Lowery, who returned it 69 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Colts lead.
It seems to me there are two sorts of quarterbacks who can run: Those who seem to earn constant questions about how they decide when to go and when not to go, and those who show a more instinctive feel and provide less cause to debate.
Mariota has definitely been in the second category so far.
Running a bit more, by design and on scrambles, probably will impact defenses and help the offense. I expect we’ll see more of that after the bye.