The RSP NFL Lens – Marcus Mariota Turning the Corner

Rookie Scouting Portfolio contributor Mark Schofield shares why he believes Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is turning the corner in his development.

As Tom Petty once reminded us, the waiting is the hardest part.

For those of us who have been waiting for Marcus Mariota to finally emerge as the quarterback we hoped he would become, his outing Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys felt like a breath of fresh air. While the numbers (21 of 29 for 240 yards and two touchdowns passes, a quarterback rating of 119.9 and adjusted yards per attempt of 9.66) were impressive, the film matched the production. Mariota was tremendous on third down and made a number of high leverage throws from the pocket, even when the pressure was starting to drive home.

More than anything else, his processing speed and decision-making were on point throughout the evening. Every year in draft season countless draft analysts (myself included) drone on and on about processing speed at the quarterback position. We talk about “pre-snap versus post-snap” and “identifying coverage” and “leverage,” and sometimes it sounds as if we just like hearing our own voices. But these things matter at the quarterback position. Remember, a QB is not just playing against the 11 guys on the defensive side of the ball, but he’s also matching wits with a defensive coordinator who has spent every waking moment of the past week ignoring the rest of his life and trying to scheme ways to confuse the said quarterback.

So when the QB solves the riddles, it is worth highlighting:

On this play, Mariota shows you what to look for in those pre-snap versus post-snap moments. The Cowboys show him a few different looks before the play but rotate the coverage right at the snap. Mariota reads it perfectly and then splits the two-high safety look with a perfect throw.

Mariota truthers have been waiting a while for a game like this. Now we just have to hope this night is more than the last dance with Mary Jane…

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