It’s still a little surprising that the Tennessee Titans drafted Marcus Mariota – not because Mariota isn’t a legitimate prospect, but because the Titans could have very easily traded the pick.
As it stands, however, the Titans have made Mariota the face of their franchise.
“When you heard some of the crazy offers that they had, it was obvious that they had zeroed in on Mariota and they really believe in Mariota,” sports talk radio host Thom Abraham said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “The thing is, where does that leave Zach Mettenberger? They had been saying that they really liked him as well, and you’ve got two polar opposites in terms of style. It’s not usually a good thing to have a starting quarterback and a backup quarterback and have them be different in terms of them running a similar offense. You almost want to have somebody that you can plug in and run the same stuff.
“It’ll be interesting,” Abraham continued. “With (Ken) Whisenhunt’s history, he has had success with people like Kurt Warner and Philip Rivers. Zach Mettenberger fit that mold. (Drafting Mariota) was kind of a surprise. A lot of people thought they would go and try to shore up the defense some more, maybe get some more talent offensively. They got a problem on the offensive line. You know how it is. When you pick a quarterback, it’s like hitting a reset button. That’s what they’ve done. They’ve hit the reset button. Ken Whisenhunt’s got enough time to be able to do it.”
It’s nice that the Titans have stability on the sidelines because they certainly don’t have it in the front office. Tommy Smith stepped down as president and CEO of the Titans in March, and general manager Ruston Webster’s job is in jeopardy. Abraham described Tennessee as a “rudderless ship,” saying the franchise has no leadership and no direction.
“The dysfunction right now at the ownership level is high,” he said.
That doesn’t make things easier for Mariota. When you look at young quarterbacks who have had success in the NFL – such as Ben Roethlisberger in the mid-2000s – they usually play for franchises that have great leadership from the top down. As of now, that isn’t the case in Tennessee, which makes drafting a quarterback second overall anything but a sure thing, especially when that quarterback didn’t come from a pro-stye offense.
“Anytime you have soft ownership, yeah, I would say that this is a little bit of a touchy situation,” Abraham said. “This is a risky move on both sides – both for Mariota and the Titans. This is a 50/50 proposition, at best. The money is there. They’re certainly going to take care of him cash-wise, but the issue will be the stability of this franchise. Now, there’s a lot of big money people in Tennessee that are looking at this thing and they’re trying to get an opportunity to sink their teeth into this franchise, so we’ll just see how it goes going forward.”