Alex Henry – Staff Writer
We are just past the midway point of the NFL season, and there is enough statistical volume to really be able to gage where players are at this season in comparison to last.
When looking at the stats, one who pops up as greatly improved is Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Mariota is in his second year as the starting quarterback for the Titans
He was the second overall selection out of Oregon in the 2015 NFL draft.
In his rookie campaign, he had his highs and lows.
He missed multiple games due to injuries and he also struggled with turnovers, having 12 turnovers in 12 games.
Last season, Mariota had 2,818 passing yards, averaging 234.8 yards per game.
He also had 19 passing touchdowns last season.
This season, Mariota has 10 games played thus far, managing to rack up 2,482 passing yards while averaging 248.2 yards per game.
He also surpassed his passing touchdown total from last season with two fewer games played. He sits at 21 passing touchdowns this year.
Mariota still has had his share of hiccups as he has more turnovers than last year with eight interceptions and six fumbles, totaling 14 turnovers as opposed to just 12 last year in more games.
Mariota still has taken a step forward as opposed to backward so far this season.
He has been able to stay healthy and play all of the team’s games.
The thing that has always been talked about with Mariota is his dynamic gameplay.
Last year, Mariota had 252 rushing yards while averaging 7.4 rushing yards per attempt; he also was able to score two rushing touchdowns.
This year, Mariota has 243 rushing yards, averaged 6.2 yards per attempt and has a pair of rushing touchdowns.
Mariota has been helped out tremendously by running back Demarco Murray, who was acquired in a trade during the off-season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Murray has been a huge improvement over last season’s starting running back for the Titans, Antonio Andrews, though he only started just 10 games and it was more of a running back by committee backfield.
Andrews averaged just 3.6 yards per attempt, as opposed to Murray this season who has 4.9 yards per attempt. This has helped Mariota in the passing game as well because the defense have to be more prepared for the Titans run game.
Mariota has improved this season over last and is one of the most promising young stars at the quarterback position in the NFL.