NASHVILLE – Marcus Mariota has not padded his stats in recent weeks.
He has enhanced his reputation, though.
The Tennessee Titans quarterback continues to earn rave reviews from teammates and coaches for his attitude and conduct since he lost the starting job to Ryan Tannehill. Thursday, quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara was the latest to laud the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
“Marcus is the most ultimate pro and best human being I’ve – probably – ever met,” O’Hara said. “So, it didn’t take any kind of motivating. He’s motivated. He understands the role.”
Mariota has been Tannehill’s backup since Week 7 and during that time has not been on the field for a single snap in a game.
Tennessee has gone 6-3 since then and needs only a win Sunday at Houston to clinch a playoff berth. The Titans also have scored 20 or more points in each of those games and 30 or more in four of them. With Mariota as the starter they averaged 16.3 points per contest, and his last appearance was a shutout defeat at Denver.
“[I have] a ton of respect for Marcus and not only what he’s done in his football career, but the person that he is each and every day,” Tannehill said earlier this month. “Tough situation for him, but he’s been nothing but professional throughout the whole process. He’s been supportive. I’ve been able to just talk through things on game day, during the week. He helps me with watching the tape.
“I think he does everything he can possibly do to help me and this team along, which says a lot about his character as a person being in that tough situation.”
Before being benched, Mariota started 61 of the 62 games he played in the NFL. The only exception was Week 3 in 2018, when he was injured but came on when backup Blaine Gabbert sustained a concussion and led the Titans to a victory over Jacksonville. As a starter, his record is 29-32.
Mariota has never been named to the Pro Bowl but has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week four times and AFC Offensive Player of the Month once (November 2016). He has been named a team captain every year he has been in the league and has continued to function in that capacity even though he has not been the starting quarterback.
In the final year of his rookie contract, it is clear that Mariota is in his final days with the Titans. He will be a free agent after the season and another team will give him the chance for a fresh start and to revitalize his career.
According to O’Hara, though, Mariota has not begun to look at what comes next. He continues to look for ways he can have an impact in his current situation.
“When it was the other way around, (Tannehill) really helped Marcus,” O’Hara said. “Marcus is helping Ryan for the good of the team. So, he’s been great.”