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Last Game’s Revealing Stat: Marcus Mariota’s First Quarter Passing

There’s no need to talk about the overall game performance of Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota because this game was effectively over by the end of the first quarter.

In that first quarter, Mariota shredded the Green Bay Packers’ defense. Each of his eight attempts were for completions. He threw for 135 yards and a touchdown. Of the four receivers who made these catches, only Delanie Walker, is a known talent in the NFL.

Mariota’s other three targets were: Tajae Sharpe, a rookie taken in the 5th round; Rishard Matthews, who gained 662 yards with the Dolphins in 2014, the best of his five years in the league; and tight end Anthony Fasano, a 32-year old who hadn’t gained 300 yards in the previous three years. These weren’t All Pros the Packers were trying to cover.

Mariota only threw one relatively deep ball, good for 21 yards. The other passes were all short and easy, three to the right, two to the left, and two over the middle. His receivers were so open that much of the yardage was gained after the catches were made.

There was another Titans’ pass in the quarter. Running back DeMarco Murray took a handoff, ran to the right, then stopped and made an easy toss to a wide-open Walker for a gimme 10-yard touchdown.

Mariota is a rising star and he is on a hot streak over his last five games. His 149.8 passer rating against the Packers (Aaron Rodgers’ rating, at 79.8, was little more than half of Mariota’s), however, was more than 50 points higher than his average rating coming into this game. Mariota’s rating has now zoomed to 99.6, seventh best in the league.

Though the Packers defensive backfield was beset with injuries, this does not begin to justify being blown out in this way. In fact, the main culprits in allowing such sloppy coverage were two starters, safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett. Along with Kentrell Brice, this threesome also allowed extra yardage by each missing tackles after short completions.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.