Remember Chip Kelly? Remember those Adam Schefter tweets saying Kelly was going to storm his way up the draft boards to get his guy? People were calling Chip a desperado and assuming that the time was ripe for the next franchise quarterback. That was the tale that Philadelphia Eagles fans told themselves until draft night in 2015 with regards to Marcus Mariota. The reality turned out quite different.
Instead, Mariota went to the Tennessee Titans, a team mired in mediocrity. His career since has been highs, lows, and injuries. He’s wowed with the athleticism we saw from his college days, made some pretty incredible throws including one to himself in the playoffs! Seriously, check this out.
Then had it all seem to disappear thanks to injuries, the mix of talent around him, and the reemergence of Ryan Tannehill. Thus in 2019, he was relegated to a backup role and then left when the Titans decided to re-up Tannehill. Mariota bolted for the Raiders to back up Derek Carr, and now the speculation about him making his way to the Eagles is heating up.
His agency is the same as Jalen Hurts, which is the same as Carson Wentz’s. Nick Sirianni has insisted he’s bringing in competition at the QB position. Mariota and Hurts play a similar style of football, and both had college careers filled with accolades. The Eagles only have one QB under contract right now (Hurts) and a veteran backup is an obvious need. So the question remains is how well does Marcus Mariota fit?
From a backup standpoint, Mariota would be near perfect. He’s an athletic guy with experience in multiple offenses. He’s played under Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Mularkey, Mike Vrabel, and Jon Gruden. Gruden is the QB guru of that crew and a year under him makes anyone better. Plus with a new offense being implemented, it won’t be a shock when Mariota picks it up.
Also, if you are building an offense around Jalen Hurts, then Mariota makes even more sense. Mariota’s skill set means that you don’t really have to change a game plan should his number be called due to injury or poor play. In fact, being 6’4″ gives Mariota an advantage over Hurts when it comes to looking downfield and reading a defense. He also has playoff experience and has been in a situation similar to what Hurts went through last year and the speculation he’s sure to face in the upcoming season.
Now if Mariota is legit competition, it becomes an entirely different story. Mariota will turn 28 in October. He’s in the typically accepted “athletic prime”, and for a quarterback in the time in your career where it all slows down. You’ve seen almost everything a defense can throw at you multiple times and the game starts to simplify. Mariota is coming into year 7 in the league. If he’s truly found his vision on the field as a quarterback and an athlete then it could be the moment that everyone in Philadelphia that pre-ordered a Mariota jersey has been waiting for.
Let’s look at his only appearance last year. A must-win game for the Raiders in Week 15. Derek Carr went down in the first quarter. Mariota completed 17 of 28 passes for 226 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, plus rushed for 88 yards and another touchdown as the Raiders lost 30–27 in overtime. He left the field in OT having helped lead the Raiders to a field goal which put them up 27-24.
Breaking tackles, dropping dimes, leading a comeback and walking off the field with his team in a position to win, after spending more than a full season on the bench. Also, he loves to use his tight ends. Even if Ertz goes, you still have a huge weapon in Dallas Goedert, and you may have one coming in Kyle Pitts, depending on how the draft goes.
He’s done the comeback thing before too. I think we remember that fateful day a few years ago in Nashville.
Marcus Mariota can do everything Jalen Hurts can do. His arm might not be as strong, but the difference between the two lies in the fact that Mariota is a veteran and Hurts is a projected 2nd year starter shrouded in controversy.
In the end, bringing in Mariota does nothing but give you a chance at either elevating Hurts, or putting someone on the field who Hurts can directly learn.