When the Tennessee Titans selected quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second overall selection in April's NFL Draft there were questions about how he would translate from the spread option college quarterback to a pro-style passer. Those questions have been answered in spades and continue to be solidified everytime Mariota steps on the field.
On Monday, hed coach Ken Whisenhunt said Mariota’s start to the season has only confirmed the team’s beliefs in him that lead to his selection.
"Well I mean Marcus (Mariota) has played well. There’s things that young players, mistakes that all of our guys are making. There are mistakes that everybody makes. But the way he’s been playing, the poise he has shown, plays that he’s made, it’s been very good. He’s done a nice job. Just the two-minute drive at the end of the game against Indianapolis, that’s one of the things that quarterbacks are judged by," said Whisenhunt. "The fact that he took us down the field and we scored a touchdown, unfortunately we didn’t convert the two-pointer, but you still can’t lose sight of all of these tests that he’s faced. He’s met those tests, and by and large he’s done very well."
I really believe that Marcus (Mariota) felt like he could do it. He’s been successful his whole life and this was the next step for him. But look, it’s not just by chance. Marcus works very hard. He’s very detailed, and he’s a good player. So it’s good for our team," admitted Whisenhunt. "When we started this whole process of evaluating quarterbacks and knowing that was something that was important for us, we certainly feel good about the decision to take Marcus and even the little sample that he’s shown."
Mariota took advantage of the bye week to rest his body, something that Whisenhunt attributes to the schedule he has set for himself during the season.
"Well, I think he’s got a good schedule. He’s very regimented in that. He spends a lot of time about football and he’s very geared towards that. I’ve said that before about that position. Some of the guys that are the best ones that play that positon, that seems to be a trait that those guys have," said Whisenhunt.
They’re very competitive, they’re very driven, and he’s got talent. I think he’s shown that. So we certainly are very excited about the future with Marcus (Mariota)."
While Mariota admitted to taking some time off from football last week, Whisenhunt questioned just how far away the quarterback got from the gameplan.
"I think even though a lot of us say that we’re taking time off or we’re trying to get away, we never really get away. I don’t recognize that quality I guess, because even though it’s nice to say we had a bye week and you get away from football, you find yourself thinking about it, preparing for it. I think that’s the way a lot of guys are wired. I think that’s the competitor in NFL players. You don’t get to this level without having that," said Whisenhunt. "I think you do have to take some time off as much as you can. Family is big to Marcus and I think he gets a lot of support from that end. I think he’s got a very good balance and once again, he handles it very well."
Whisenhunt and Mariota are expecting pressure from the Bills on Sunday, and Whisenhunt likes the way his rookie handles himself in the face of that pressure.
"Well he faced pressure, certainly, in Cleveland and handled it in the noise. And we got pressure last week. When you’re a rookie quarterback, you’re going to see pressure. But he’s made some plays, the play to (Anthony) Fasano in Cleveland where he rolled to the right. Certainly some of those plays when he stayed in the pocket and threw the passes down the field. He’ll get better as he gets more of it," said Whisenhunt. "This will be a unique challenged because Buffalo gives you so many different looks. But he’s seen a lot of looks from our defense from what we’ve seen all through the spring and in camp, so hopefully we can build off of that and get better as we go."