Tennessee Titans

Mike Vrabel is trying to talk himself into Marcus Mariota

Despite the acquisition of Ryan Tannehill, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is trying to stay committed to Marcus Mariota.

The Miami Dolphins found a team to unload Ryan Tannehill on, as they paid a big chunk of his guaranteed 2019 salary and sent a 2019 sixth-round pick to the Tennessee Titans for a seventh-round pick in 2019 and a fourth-round pick in 2020. Tannehill would seem to be some level of competition for Marcus Mariota, but general manager Jon Robinson pushed that aside right away.

Mariota set a career-high and franchise record for completion percentage last year, at 68.9 percent. But he missed time again due to injury, and had just 11 touchdown passes with eight interceptions over 14 games (13 starts). The No. 2 overall pick in 2015, Mariota has yet to play all 16 games in a season and he has barely more touchdowns than interceptions over the last two seasons.

Even with the understanding he’s the backup quarterback, Robinson suggested Tannehill will help, push and compete with Mariota. Speaking to the Titans’ website, head coach Mike Vrabel offered a similar sentiment and also backed Mariota.

The message (then and now) is it’s understood we’re going to put as many guys on the roster as possible that can compete and help us win,” “It only makes guys better.
“Obviously if Marcus is healthy, and he’s available, he’s our starter. We just felt like, to be able to strengthen the position, to have a chance to add a player like Ryan, who could help us if Marcus isn’t available, then we were excited to do so.

Tannehill has not been a picture of durability himself, missing 24 of 48 games over the last three seasons as he lost a whole season to a torn ACL in 2017 and missed five games with a shoulder problem last year. But Mariota has never really had legitimate competition for the starting job, and he’ll be playing out the fifth-year option on his rookie contract in 2019 with no extension in sight.

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The Titans will have another new offensive coordinator this year, the fourth in Mariota’s career as he heads into a make-or-break year. Arthur Smith is just moving over from tight ends coach though, and has professed he’ll keep the root of Matt LaFleur’s 2018 offense in place. That continuity will help, but it seems Vrabel will struggle to keep a quarterback controversy at bay.

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