The Marcus Mariota pro debut for the Tennessee Titans was close to perfect, but the team isn’t getting carried away with excitement, knowing it’s just one game, and there’s a long season ahead for them to determine and find out whether he is really that good.
Mariota did post a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He threw four touchdown passes, including on his first pass attempt, while completing 13-of-16 throws. Things went so well in the one-sided victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Titans were able to bench him late in the fourth quarter.
But there are enough reasons to be cautious. The Robert Griffin III story, which started out like a fairytale and has reached unbelievable depths is one way to look at things. Griffin, fresh off of his Heisman winning campaign with Baylor, just like Mariota (playing for a different set of green uniform in college) had an incredible debut against the New Orleans Saints. He had a fantastic rookie season, winning the offensive rookie of the year award. And look at him now.
Mariota isn’t the “sure-thing” type of prospect like Andrew Luck, but the Titans wanted him all along according to the sources from within the organization. Even before the win over the Titans, the high was evident when it came to Mariota and his ability. While no one expected this kind of debut, the Titans weren’t stunned to see him do so well.
Obviously, a rookie campaign is often filled with ups and downs. Mariota is going to have bad games, and he’ll be hit with a wall of criticism. But maybe the best thing to remember is that few teams will offer such a poor defensive effort like the Buccaneers’ soft, outdated cover 2, that is likely going to drag them into another awful season, and maybe Lovie Smith out of a job.