Will Marcus Mariota’s Red-Zone Perfection End in 2017?

marcus mariota

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 1:43 PM GMT

QB Marcus Mariota has been just about everything the Tennessee Titans could have hoped for when they drafted him at No. 2 overall in 2015. The guy has been sensational in the red zone, and you can bet at BookMaker on if his perfection continues this season.

NFL teams aren’t going to win consistently if they don’t score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals in the red zone. And you absolutely can’t turn it over inside the opponents’ 20-yard-line. One of the best players in the league in that regard the past two seasons has been Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, the former Heisman winner from Oregon.

In his brief career in the red zone, Mariota has completed 60 of his 94 pass attempts (64 percent) with 33 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Among all 52 quarterbacks with more than 10 red-zone pass attempts over this stretch, Mariota ranks fourth in completion percentage, first in touchdown percentage and first in interception percentage.

BookMaker has an NFL prop on whether Mariota is picked off in the red zone this year, with yes at -140 and no at +100. The active quarterbacks with the most red-zone passing touchdowns without an interception to start a career is 37 by Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton.

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According to Pro Football Focus, the leader in completion percentage in red-zone passing over the past 10 seasons with at least 150 such pass attempts to qualify is the retired Kurt Warner at 65 percent. The leader in red-zone touchdown-to-interception ratio is Aaron Rodgers (221:9). Last year, Rodgers had 31 touchdowns and no picks in the red zone.

Mariota completed 26-for-42 (61.9 percent) for 195 yards, 15 TDs and no picks as a rookie. Last year, his numbers were 34-for-54 (63 percent) for 251 yards and 18 TDs. The NFL leader in red-zone picks in 2016 was the Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick with six.

The 2016 season ended in disappointing fashion for Mariota as he broke his leg in Week 16, which effectively ended his team’s playoff chances. Still, the Titans finished with a 9-7 record, their best performance since the 2011 season. I happen to like the Titans to win the AFC South this year if Mariota can stay healthy. Mariota was practicing in semi-limited fashion to start the Titans’ OTAs this week so he’ll be good to go come training camp.

As for my NFL pick on this prop, you have to lean yes. There’s always the possibility of a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage or a receiver bobbling a pass that lands in an opponents’ hands.

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