The Facts: Two problems have worked against Mariota to this point in his career—and one hasn’t been much within his control: Lack of continuity in his coaches. The second problem of Mariota’s is more complicated—his durability. “The thing I’ve stressed to him, and I know our coaches have stressed to him is, 'Let’s live to play another play,'” GM Jon Robinson said. “'It’s OK to punt, we’ll get another crack at it.' That’s the main thing, it’s stressing to him—to try as best as possible, like all quarterbacks do, to avoid getting hit.”
Diehards Line:Mariota has only missed eight games over his career, and just four over the last three years, and he’s been plenty tough, but he always seems to be playing through something. Last year it was a nerve issue that would be disconcerting for any football player, and cost him three starts and kept him out of two games all together. He and the organization are walking a tightrope that’s been well-worn in the NFL over the last couple decades, trying to maximize a superior athlete at the most important position on the field without compromising his availability or career longevity. HC Mike Vrabel, OC Arthur Smith, Robinson and the rest of the Titans brass want a multiple offense that can threaten a defense in every way. So figuring out where to pull the trigger and where to pull back with Mariota—who ran a 4.4 40 at the 2015 combine—as a runner is one challenge. Mariota learning when to use his wheels and when not to in broken-play situations is another. It will be a point of emphasis again when training camp opens.