Franks: Mariota Must Prove He's A Franchise QB

This could be Marcus Mariota's last chance to prove his worth – not just in Tennessee, but in the NFL

August 15, 2019 - 9:26 am
Marcus Mariota

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Ryan Tannehill had a solid preseason debut for the Tennessee Titans last week, going 12-of-16 for 130 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-10 win over the Eagles. It was preseason, sure, but Tannehill was also the starting quarterback in Miami for six seasons.

Translation? The leash is short for Marcus Mariota.

“Ryan Tannehill looked very consistent in his performance against the Eagles,” WSNR afternoon host Johnny Ballpark Franks said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Am I surprised? Absolutely not. Ryan Tannehill was brought in to be the backup, but he was also brought in to push Marcus Mariota. This is the first time Marcus Mariota has somebody there in that quarterback room that is a legitimate starter in the NFL.”

Tannehill completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 20,434 yards, 123 touchdowns and 75 interceptions for the Dolphins from 2012-18. 

“If I’m Ryan Tannehill, yeah, I understand what my role is, and Marcus Mariota, you’re our starter until you’re not,” Franks said. “Here’s a guy with 20,000+ passing yards to his credit. Because of that, his experiences, he will certainly help Marcus Mariota on a daily basis to get better. If Ryan Tannehill is out there and has these opportunities, he’s not supposed to go in there and stink up the join just to make Marcus Mariota feel better. Ryan Tannehill is going to do what he likes to do – and that’s play his best football when he gets the opportunity.”

So far, he has. How much pressure is under Mariota this season?

“I would say it’s high,” Franks said. “He only has the one-year contract this year. It’s not like he got extended. He’s making over $20 million this year, but at the same time, he doesn’t have the long-term contract. That tells me a couple of things: The Titans are looking to see whether Marcus Mariota can remain healthy. At the same time, is he really the franchise quarterback?”

If not, the Titans would almost certainly address the position in next year’s supposedly QB-rich draft

“There’s a lot of capable individuals coming out of the college ranks next year,” Franks said. “If you’ve got Ryan Tannehill to pair that with somebody out of the draft, the Titans will be just fine. If there’s not a fire been lit before, there’s certainly one now lit under Marcus Mariota, and I’m looking forward to see how he accepts the challenge.”

Click below to listen to Franks’ interview in its entirety.