Titans QB Marcus Mariota named AFC offensive player of week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Marcus Mariota is feeling more comfortable with every game that passes with the Tennessee Titans.

Considering how he's performed through just 22 career games, that's news the rest of the AFC South and NFL likely don't want to hear.

''He's just getting better and better as we go,'' Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews said Wednesday of Mariota. ''I think that's showing. I think he's going to continue to get better. I don't think we've even seen the best of him yet, so that's kind of scary actually.''

Mariota was chosen AFC Offensive Player of the Week Wednesday after throwing for 295 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-25 win over the Green Bay Packers - his third such award.

The quarterback credited tight end Delanie Walker and running back DeMarco Murray along with his offensive line with helping him put up such numbers.

''I'm really just kind of a result of that,'' Mariota said.

With his latest performance, Mariota became the first quarterback in NFL history to score four total touchdowns in six of his first 22 career starts. It's just part of the numbers the No. 2 pick overall out of Oregon in 2015 has been compiling.

Mariota ranks fifth all-time for most TD passes (33) before turning 23 on Oct. 30, behind Drew Bledsoe and Fran Tarkenton (40), Jameis Winston (39) and Josh Freeman (35). Mariota already has two of the franchise's top three games in terms of passer rating, a stat that doesn't include his perfect 158.3 rating in his NFL debut because he didn't throw at least 20 passes.

He also has matched Warren Moon's 1987 franchise record with at least two TD passes in six straight games, a mark Mariota will have a chance to take for himself Sunday when the Titans (5-5) visit Indianapolis (4-5).

Inside an opponent's 20, Mariota is second only to Brady (130.8) in passer rating at 116.4, having thrown 15 touchdowns. Only Drew Brees of New Orleans (19) has more.

Yes, Mariota is getting more and more comfortable each week.

''You're seeing things for a lot of times a second or third time,'' Mariota said. ''As I continue to grow, I think things will continue to slow down.''

Against Green Bay, Mariota completed his first 10 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with a 149.8 passer rating.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey notes how Tennessee needs the quarterback playing at his best level. Mularkey explained how Mariota threw the ball away when needed and didn't try to do too much.

''We've improved in a lot of areas that have helped him get to that point,'' Mularkey said.

Mariota now has 17 touchdowns and three interceptions over his past six games, along with two TDs rushing. That gives him a 119 passer rating second in the NFL to Tom Brady (125.5) in that span. Colts coach Chuck Pagano saw Mariota Oct. 23 when Indianapolis pulled out a 34-26 win and called the quarterback a great game manager.

''He can beat you with his arm. He can beat you with his legs. He's making great decisions ...'' Pagano said. ''And he's being efficient, he's taking care of the football, and they're spreading things around. He's playing with a great deal of confidence right now, as well as everybody around him.''

---

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.