The Titans quarterback had an impressive rookie season, totaling more than 2,800 passing yards and throwing 19 touchdowns, but will he continue to improve in his second year?
A number of today’s quarterbacks have elevated their games from their first to second seasons- Blake Bortles, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck to name a few. But the improvements expected of a sophomore quarterback extend beyond juicing up their passing numbers.
The Titans will look to Mariota to step up his conditioning and physical strength without sacrificing his speed. They’ll also expect him to improve in less tangible areas: leadership, decision-making and pocket awareness. At the same time, Tennessee hopes Mariota can increase his threshold for handling the “details” of the quarterback position. According to ex-GM Floyd Reese, who recently discussed Mariota’s second year prospects on ESPN’s Sports Night, via 102.5 FM,
If you’re a young quarterback and you’re trying to improve your second year, I think it involves detail. Maybe last year your objective was on every pass play to locate the free safety and always throw away from the deepest safety. Well, this year, you take that and you add: Are the corners playing inside or outside technique? Which linebacker can get to the tight end the fastest? Which linebacker will provide the best underneath help? Things like that.
In other words, Mariota’s maturation as a football player and leader will be the biggest determinant of his improvement. Robert Griffin III suffered an ill-fated timeline after his rookie year, demonstrating just how hard it is for a second-year quarterback, no matter how good, to make the jump into a successful sophomore campaign.
All signs point to Mariota stepping up his game. His teammates and coaches have praised his poise and improvements in OTAs, and he seems to be saying all the right things. We won’t know if all the talk is true for a few more months, but Titans fans should be confident Mariota is on the right track.
What do you think? Will Mariota make the anticipated jump from impressive rookie to respected sophomore?