Marcus Mariota has talent. That’s undeniable, and it’s the reason he was the second-overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. Another undeniable fact when discussing the Tennessee Titans quarterback is that he has been unable to stay on the field, missing at least one game due to injury in each of his first four seasons.
The Titans know this, and they’re doing everything in their power to help Mariota avoid the big hits that have cost him time, and that have cost the team wins.
Speaking with Albert Breer of The MMQB, Titans general manager Jon Robinson opened up about what the team has “stressed” to Mariota this offseason.
“The thing I’ve stressed to him, and I know our coaches have stressed to him is, ‘Let’s live to play another play,'” Robinson said. “Don’t take that hit. If you feel the pocket coming down on you and you take off running, and the ‘backer is coming off of coverage and he’s coming screaming at you, throw the ball away. It’s OK to punt, we’ll get another crack at it. That’s the main thing, it’s stressing to him-to try as best as possible, like all quarterbacks do, to avoid getting hit.”
Robinson also said, “We just have to keep him out there.” He admitted it’s easier said than done, however, noting the penchant for taking off and trying to pick up extra yards is “a hard habit to break.”
Mariota is set to play out the final year of his rookie deal after the Titans picked up his fifth-year option and will make just over $20 million in 2019. When asked about whether the Titans view Mariota as a long-term answer, Robinson hedged, saying, “That’s certainly our hope.”
You don’t have to be a code-breaker extraordinaire to read between those lines.
To this point, there have been no real discussions about a long-term extension. That’s understandable given his injury history, especially when you consider the laundry list of nagging ailments he played through last year.