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#pounditSaturday, August 8, 2020

Marcus Mariota in danger of losing starting job to Ryan Tannehill?

The Tennessee Titans acquired Ryan Tannehill via trade this offseason in a move many viewed as injury insurance, but it would not be a surprise if he started games at some point this season even if Marcus Mariota is healthy. In fact, that could happen as early as Week 1.

While two preseason games isn’t exactly a large sample size, you could make the argument that Tannehill has outplayed Mariota. Mariota was 4-for-8 with just 24 passing yards in Tennessee’s first game against the Philadelphia Eagles, while Tannehill looked sharp and completed 12-of-16 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Neither was spectacular against the New England Patriots on Saturday night, with Mariota completing 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown and Tannehill connecting on 7-of-11 throws for 84 yards and a score.

Neither player has run away with the job, but ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported earlier in the week that Mariota is “not a lock” to start in Week 1. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, who was around the Titans this week while fulfilling his duties covering the Patriots, felt the same way, as he described the Titans’ quarterback position as “surprisingly wide open.”

Plenty of people would be surprised if Tannehill beat out Mariota, but should they be? The Titans used the No. 2 overall pick in draft on Mariota four years ago, and he has not taken the type of leap they have hoped for. Injuries are partly to blame for that, but he has also been inconsistent and thrown just 24 touchdown passes compared to 23 interceptions while playing in 29 games over the past two years combined. Those numbers leave a lot to be desired, and Tennessee’s coaching staff might want to start fresh.

At the very least, Mariota is going to be a on short leash. He made some changes this offseason that he hopes will help him shake off some of his past issues, but he probably won’t have much time to prove himself. If Mariota comes out struggling and the Titans’ offense needs a spark, it probably won’t be long before they give Tannehill a shot.

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