While the Bears are inching toward a Mitch Trubisky return in Week 7 against the Saints, another former No. 2 overall selection is making headlines for moving out of the starting lineup.
The latest from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport:
The #Titans are making a QB change. Ryan Tannehill has been informed he’ll get the start Sunday against the #Chargers, sources tell me and @TomPelissero. Former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota goes to the bench.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 16, 2019
The Titans are benching quarterback Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill in a move the team hopes will spark a resurgence. Mariota is coming off a game in which he completed 7 of 18 passes (FYI: that’s just 38.9%) for 63 yards. He was sacked three times (to bring his league-leading total to 25) and threw two interceptions en route to posting a woeful 9.5 passer rating against the Broncos last week.
On the season, Mariota has completed a dreadful 59.1% of his passes, and the 25-year-old has seen his passer rating and QBR decline since his breakout sophomore season. He’s thrown for a total of 31 touchdowns in the last two and a half seasons, and has managed 25 picks in that same time. The talent might still be there, but the results sure haven’t been.
Tennessee is off to a 2-4 start and Mariota is taking the fall in the fifth year of his rookie deal. And while his time as the Titans’ QB1 appears to be drawing to an end, the Mariota intrigue is only beginning.
Because Mitch Trubisky has yet become the quarterback he was expected to be when the Bears took him with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, it would be wise for Chicago to keep its options open, both in the short (2020-21) and long-term (2021+). Among those options would be an open quarterback competition after this season, much like the one that took place in an attempt to solve the team’s kicking woes. Perhaps that plays out between Trubisky and a potential quality back-up, while the Bears also try to develop another option internally via the draft in the coming years? Nobody WANTS to see it go this route, but I’m just saying: options and minds must be open.
Bringing it back to the Mariota news, should Trubisky’s struggles continue through the rest of this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Halas Hall offered up as a possible landing spot for the free agent when the rumor mill starts churning next offseason, especially given the impending expiration of back-up Chase Daniel’s contract.
The Bears met with Mariota in 2015 when they had the seventh pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he was long gone by the time Chicago went on the clock. But it is still noteworthy that GM Ryan Pace made that connection five years ago. Also worth jotting down is Bears Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich’s history with Mariota. Helfrich was Mariota’s head coach at Oregon in 2014 when he won the Heisman Trophy. And when talking about Helfrich in February 2018, Mariota had strong words of support for his former coach.
All of this is worth storing for a rainy day, even if that day isn’t coming for a while.
This conversation could all be for nothing if Trubisky turns it around and starts playing as well as he did last season. Hopefully that’s exactly what happens! But if Trubisky can’t turn the tables, consider Mariota Watch the first step toward a larger discussion we’ll need to have moving forward about the future of the position.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.