While some expect there to be a quarterback controversy at some point this year for the Las Vegas Raiders, according to the team, Derek Carr is the unquestioned starter. They brought in former second overall draft pick Marcus Mariota to serve as a backup. However, the incentive-laden contract the team gave him suggests that there’s at least a chance they think he could start at some point.
Mariota does have talent, but at the end of the day, he’s just not better than Carr. Mike Sando of The Athletic recently released a list of the top 50 quarterbacks in the NFL and Mariota was ranked at 27. That’s actually not too bad, but one anonymous executive ripped into the quarterback.
“Honestly, if you watched the preseason tape last year, [Ryan] Tannehill vs. Mariota, and you are totally unbiased, Tannehill outplayed him and should have been starting from day one,” the exec said. “We played Mariota twice, beat him both times and he was awful.”
Those are some pretty strong words for the once-promising quarterback.
Mariota Better Than 5 Starters?
According to Sando’s ranking, Mariota is better than five quarterbacks slated to be starters. Three of those quarterbacks are going into their second years. However, it’s possible that Mariota is overrated. By all accounts, he’s one of the best people in the NFL, he’s a strong leader and does have a lot of talent.
That problem is that he’s been very bad over the last three seasons. Over those seasons, he’s thrown 31 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Those numbers are over 34 starts. That means he’s averaging less than one touchdown pass a game over the last three seasons.
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A Coach Thinks Gruden Can Fix Mariota
It’s obvious that a change of scenery was necessary for Mariota. He’s had three head coaches in his career. Two of them were former tight ends and the third was a linebacker. He now gets to be coached by Jon Gruden, who some consider a quarterback guru. In fact, Gruden could be the perfect guy to resurrect Mariota’s career.
“I really want to like him, but he’s a [tier] four,” a former head coach said, per Sando. “I think Jon Gruden, if he committed to him, could do what he did with Rich Gannon, because I think the guy has some real good ability. Mariota has issues keeping his eyes up the field, but I think he was in a tough position there in Tennessee with the combination of things they had going on. At some point, you have to overcome whatever it is.”
Gruden has been trying to find the next Gannon since he was traded by the Raiders. It’s hard not to see the similarities between Mariota and the former NFL MVP. However, it’s hard to imagine Mariota taking such a big leap this offseason that he takes over Carr’s job. He can opt-out after this season. If Carr has a big year, the Raiders will probably commit to him long-term and Mariota will have to decide if he wants to continue to be a backup or wants to try to find a starter job elsewhere.