Is it a thing or is it not a thing? That’s the question.
Well, if it’s a thing it doesn’t make any sense.
The thing is the prospect of Ryan Tannehill starting the season as the Titans week 1 starter over Marcus Mariota.
The moment the Titans traded for Tannehill to upgrade their depth at quarterback people pointed to a QB competition, but the Titans said loud and clear Mariota is the starter.
In Nashville the message was loud and clear. In Nashville there has been no reason to think any different. Anyone in Nashville who watched OTA’s, Mini-Camp or Training Camp did not see any reason for Mariota’s job to be in jeopardy.
Nationally though the moment Ryan Tannehill threw 2 TD’s against the Eagles 2nd and 3rd teamers it was all they needed to announce the competiton was on. They proclaimed Tannehill “could be” the week 1 starter. Well, yeah, so could I. We all know how big this season is for Mariota. He needs to play well and stay healthy, but not giving him the chance to? That just does not compute, especially at over $20-million for the season!!!
“Marcus is a great competitor” said Corey Davis, “and he’s going to come out here and give it all he’s got. He’s a great guy, great competitor and we’re happy to have him on our team for sure.”
The support for Mariota is another factor. With three straight winning seasons, 12 game winning fourth quarter drives and a playoff victory he has earned the belief of his teammates.
Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker credits Mariota with the Titans success the last three years and the media with inventing a controversy that is not there. Thursday Walker said, “I think that’s your (the media) job to create controversy. I say y’all because y’all the reporters that report that stuff. So, at the end of the day y’all have to get a story done, y’all can say whatever y’all want. We here, we don’t see it.”
So, locally we shake our heads and trudge on. Mariota was clearly the better of the two quarterbacks this week in practice, but this is not about 2 practices, 2 games or even 2 drives. It is about the future.
They signed Adam Humphries to a 4-year, $36-million dollar deal. They signed Rodger Saffold to a 4-year, $44-million dollar contract. They drafted AJ Brown in round two. They did it all to give Mariota what he needs to succeed, so what sense does it make to never give him the chance to use the new pieces around him? That is easy, it makes no sense.
Also, not many owners want to bench a $20-million player for a $2-million one. That is not a good investment.
As for Mariota, he plays on and appreciates the new man he works with each day. Mariota sees competiton, but not with Tannehill, “I think having Ryan (Tannehill) in our room has been a tremendous addition” Mariota said Wednesday, “That competition year in and year out for me is just with myself. I’ve just got to be the best version of myself.”
If he delivers that version he will stay in Nashville for a long time, if not, the Titans will likely move on, but not before they actually see what it looks like.