Philadelphia brought in the former No. 2 pick as a free agent this past offseason following the departure of Gardner Minshew in free agency. Mariota looked pretty good in the preseason opener, completing 7-of-11 passes for 58 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.
Preseason stats aside, there had been some concern in Philadelphia about Mariota’s erratic ways during practices. This came out in droves against the Cleveland Browns Thursday night.
Mariota was consistently high with his throws, missing wide open receivers throughout his appearance. That culminated in an interception thrown into the hands of rookie Browns defensive back Ronnie Hickman late in the first quarter.
This angle shows just how much Mariota overthrew tight end Grant Calcaterra. Since being selected by the Tennessee Titans in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, this has been a continual issue for Mariota. That’s been magnified more recently (60% completion since 2019). When he misses, the veteran quarterback misses bad. That was the case during training camp.
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Do the Philadelphia Eagles have a Marcus Mariota problem?
“Marcus Mariota isn’t going anywhere, per se, as the No. 2 quarterback, but we’ll use this space instead to note how much he’s struggled throughout camp thus far. Sloppy interceptions and tuck-and-running have been commonplace, along with wayward incompletions,” Bo Wulf of The Athletic wrote earlier in August.
To Wulf’s point, Mariota signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Eagles this past offseason. All $5 million is guaranteed, meaning that he’s not going anywhere.
But for a championship-contending Eagles team, having an erratic backup such as Mariota can’t be seen as an ideal scenario. The veteran ended up completing 9-of-17 passes for 85 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception before being relieved by rookie sixth-round pick Tanner McKee. It just wasn’t a good performance from Mariota.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, there doesn’t seem to be much of a solution when it comes to the QB2 spot behind Hurts. They are not bringing back the top free agent quarterback on the market, Carson Wentz. Other veteran options available include Joe Flacco, Nick Foles and Chase Daniel.
Perhaps, Philadelphia looks to the trade market to see if a cheap option with veteran experience becomes available. Sam Darnold (San Francisco 49ers), Kyle Allen (Buffalo Bills) and Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints) could make sense.
But for now, there is seemingly a major QB2 problem in Philadelphia. This came out in droves with Mariota’s struggles against a Browns defense that was playing mostly reserves Thursday night.