To catch a falling star?
When Marcus Mariota left the University of Oregon to begin his NFL journey there those who believed he could be a star and those who thought he would be a bust. The Titans used the second pick in the 2015 draft to select Mariota with the idea that he would save the franchise.
Now five years later, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner is expected to leave the Titans as a bust. Yet when we consider the situation, why did Mariota not succeed?
Was his arm not good enough? No, he has an NFL caliber arm that can make all the throws. Was he not accurate enough? No, he was an accurate passer at Oregon, even if he hasn’t been as on point with the Titans. Too small? No, at 6’4″ and 222 lbs, he has NFL size. Not smart? He is considered very intelligent, makes good decisions and before we breach it, yes, he is even very mobile.
So could the issue have been that he was drafted by a team that wasn’t that good and was asked to carry it before he was ready? This is my guess why it hasn’t worked out for him in Tennessee.
I believe that Mariota coming to a new environment with the idea of being groomed behind an established NFL signal-caller like Matthew Stafford would accomplish two things. It takes him out of the situation of being the ‘savior’ of a franchise and would allow him to regain his confidence which took a hard hit in Tennessee.
Plain and simple, in Tennessee, he will always be considered the bust who never panned out. In a new city with a new team where all the weight isn’t on his shoulders, he has a chance to regain his swagger.
I’m sure that Mariota would like to find an opportunity to be a starter again, which may be the biggest obstacle the Lions would have to overcome to sign him, but if he considered how good it would be to work with Matthew, who isn’t getting any younger and may just have to hang up his cleats sooner rather than later if the injury bug keeps getting him, this would be the perfect situation for Mariota.
On the NFL level, Mariota has to get more accurate, but boosting his confidence will help that. He doesn’t throw a lot of interceptions and has the ability to make plays with his arm and legs, which would give Darrell Bevell all kinds of ways to use him if needed.
The biggest concern would be what it would cost to sign him, but considering he will be viewed as a reclamation project around the league, that will help keep his salary at a somewhat reasonable level unless there is some bidder out there willing to offer the moon and stars.
The only question left is; would it work? there are no guarantees in life or sports, but this would be a risk that would at least make the quarterback position better with the possibility of having a successor to Stafford that has a high ceiling.
The Detroit Lions typically never take risks, which is why I can’t say I expect them to make a run at Mariota, and why they typically fail while other teams succeed.
But as long as Matthew Stafford is in the fold, this is a low-risk high reward type of opportunity that is worth exploring. Sure it wouldn’t be cheap as some other possibilities, but if it were to work out and the Lions caught a falling star, then it would be well worth it. If not, well, would it be any different then all the times this franchise hasn’t been willing to take a chance?