It’s been a very interesting and uneven road for Marcus Mariota. He was a star at Oregon University where he won the Heisman Trophy and ended up being the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. During his first couple of years in the NFL, he looked like he was going to be a solid player. Mariota put up strong numbers and was only getting better.
Unfortunately, he completely flopped in his third year and threw only 13 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. In his last two seasons, he’s thrown a combined 18 touchdowns to 10 interceptions in 21 games played. Those aren’t the number you want to see from your starting quarterback. Vinny Passas has been working with Mariota since he was 14 and he explained why he needed to leave Tennessee.
“He needed a change of scenery,” Passas said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “Some new chemistry around him. Even though he is making another change at offensive coordinator and learning a new language, it’s good for him.”
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has a reputation for helping get the best out of veteran quarterbacks, so it makes sense why he’d want to play for him. However, the team already has a starting quarterback in Derek Carr, but Passas sees that as a good thing.
“It’s also good that the Raiders don’t need him right away,” Passas said. “There is no rush to get the timing of the new offense down, and he can really put his best foot forward.”
Mariota wasn’t a necessary addition for the team, but he does give Gruden an interesting project to work on.
Passas Explains Mariota’s Disappointing Season
As mentioned previously, Mariota’s career hasn’t gone as planned. Things came to a head in 2019 and he lost his starting job to Ryan Tannehill, who led the Titans to the AFC Championship game. It was quickly obvious that the Titan’s were Tannehill’s team for the near future. Having a capable backup didn’t end up helping Mariota and he lost his job.
“The timing was just bad for him,” Passas explained to Tafur. “He wasn’t fully healed and then he took a lot of punishment in the preseason. But he did have an opportunity to make plays and he didn’t, and it’s a bottom-line league. And he wasn’t the new staff’s guy when it came in, in 2018.
“But he knows nobody is going to feel sorry for him and he has to be ready to compete. His dad used to always tell him growing up, ‘Whatcha gonna do about it?’ Marcus knows what to do. His confidence is fine.”
There’s no doubt Mariota is incredibly talented. For whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to play at a consistent level. He’ll now be able to reinvent himself under Gruden and reboot his career.
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Will Mariota Realistically Compete for Starting Job?
Mariota has a big challenge ahead of him if he’s hoping to unseat Derek Carr. Carr hasn’t always been consistent, but he’s got a strong grasp of Gruden’s offense and almost won an MVP in 2016. Plus, he’ll probably be even better in 2020.
Mariota has never shown to be a better quarterback than Carr, so it’s hard to imagine Mariota beats him out anytime soon. Based on his contract, there’s a chance he can get good money if he starts, but his salary isn’t very big if he rides the bench. He’s got a lot of incentive to start over Carr, but time will tell if that will actually happen. Mariota will get a chance to compete, but it will be up to him to prove he’s actually a better option for the Raiders.