2017 has been – by far – the worst statistical season of Marcus Mariota’s young career. Though the Tennessee Titans are 8-5 and on the cusp of making the playoffs, through twelve games, Mariota’s rookie numbers look better than this season.
He’s thrown 10 touchdowns to 14 interceptions and it appears his comfort level in the pocket is waning.
Why is Mariota off??
It looks to date back to last year’s game in Jacksonville, where Mariota fractured his right fibula. Paul Kuharsky reported Wednesday that Mariota may need an additional surgery at the end of the season to clean up the repaired right ankle.
This spurred me to take a look at some throws this year vs throws from last year.
Marcus Mariota – 2017: the BAD
The first thing I noticed when watching all of Marcus Mariota’s interceptions from this season is his inability to step into throws. The previously injured right ankle is key to planting and getting velocity on the his throws. Most of the time when an interception was thrown by Mariota this year, it’s been off of his back leg.
Against the Texans, take a look at where his legs are when he throws the football.
When all of Mariota’s weight is on his back leg, one of two things usually happen. The ball sails on him or it’s completely off target.
Against the Bengals, Mariota takes a very short step forward and throws right into coverage.
He’s not planting with his back leg, stepping up and driving his body through the throw.
Against the Steelers, Mariota is almost falling back when the ball is released.
This has been a major issue all season long and is obviously a key factor into why his success rate has gone down. I asked Mariota about the offseason injury last week and this is what he had to say about it.
Marcus Mariota – 2016: the GOOD
Seeing what Mariota has done post ankle surgery made me curious to see what some of his throw looked like last season before the injury. I found more down the field passes and more importantly his footwork was on point, just like his throws.
Last year against the Browns, look at how well he stepped up into the pocket and delivered both of these passes.
Both throws, Mariota steps, plants and points his front toes to where he is throwing.
Last year against the Lions, Marcus threw one of the the best passes of his young career. Watch his feet.
Let’s be clear, the ankle injury is not the only thing that has caused Mariota’s inefficient play this season.
Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie’s play calling and offensive scheme hasn’t been consistent. The offensive line isn’t performing like it did, and running the football has been a struggle at times. But it’s clear to see that Mariota’s footwork, or lack there of, has impacted his throws and his turnover numbers.
We’ll find out if he can correct some of the missteps and help the Tennessee Titans make a playoff run.