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Questions raised about QB Mariota's play
Marcus Mariota does not look like the same quarterback that vaulted to stardom last season for the Tennessee Titans.
Mariota, who threw 26 touchdown passes to just nine interceptions a year ago, already has 10 picks in nine games (he missed the Miami game with a hamstring injury) this season, thanks to a four-interception performance in Thursday night's 40-17 loss in Pittsburgh.
Not all the interceptions were completely on Mariota, but the quarterback does seem to be off his game enough that the consistency that was there in 2016 has been lacking at times this season.
Titans head coach Mike Mularkey admitted there are things Mariota could have done better Thursday night.
"Probably, when you turn the ball over four times, whether it's you throwing it or not throwing it, things he could've done a lot better. Yeah, there's some things he could've done better," Mularkey said.
The coach also said that the interception increase isn't solely on Mariota, citing that his receivers - most notably rookie Corey Davis - have to be in better position on their routes in the Titans' timing offense.
"A variety of reasons, and not solely all his responsibility. I think whether it's been pressure, had more pressure, more blitzes, more making him move, more guys needing to make plays, more guys being where that ball, like last night," he said. "That's the thing about zone coverage, that's how Kevin Byard makes these interceptions, they just happen to be in the right place in the right time and that's kind of what happened with some of his interceptions."
Mariota is also way off in terms of the number of touchdown passes he threw in 2016, as he has only eight this season. Again, there have been extenuating circumstances, as Delanie Walker dropped a pass in the end zone vs. the Steelers, and the week before that, Rishard Matthews dropped a potential touchdown against the Bengals.
"Other than the ones we're dropping? No, we're in the red zone more this year than we were last year, the high red," he said. "Earlier in the year, we had failed to get down in the tighter red where more of his throws were coming that he threw last year. We just weren't down there as much as we were a year ago and I think that has a lot to do with why his production's off from a year ago."
Despite the struggles, Mularkey remains supremely confident in his quarterback.
"We're asking him to do a lot, a lot more than I've been around. We trust him to do that. I know he's thrown more. I'm glad he's our quarterback," Mularkey said. "I know this, we still have a chance to win every game with him no matter what the score is, where it is in the game. Nobody every talks about how accurate he is in some of the throws he does make, all you guys keep asking me are about the throws he doesn't. There's a lot of good throws that he makes every Sunday, very tight window throws."