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Mata’utia Mariota – Negative Passing Film – Titans vs. Colts (Week 6)

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Thank you for visiting us at Anatomy of Titans, and please make sure to check out Lelei Mariota articles (Part 1 and Part 2) to see the good passes of the week from the Tennessee Titans.  I will be writing film reviews for the Titans this year, focusing on positive and negative aspects of the team.

The review for this week is the Tennessee Titans beating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6 of the 2017 football season.  The Titans ended a streak of 11 straight losses to the Colts, who were playing without franchise QB Andrew Luck.  This are the bad plays of the passing game involving Marcus Mariota.  These plays will be called Mata’utia Mariota, because Mata’utia in Samoan means terrible, according to Google translate. It’s not the greatest title, so I would love to hear some suggestions from the fan base (and please keep it clean).  Anyway, let’s head to the breakdowns. 

Mata’utia Mariota:


We have our first bad pass play from this game, and it’s a huge miss on the part of Marcus Mariota.  Delanie Walker goes in motion on this play, and his defender follows him across the field, a good indication of man coverage.  The Titans have a bunch receiver formation to the left of the line, and Mariota stares down Walker for the entire route.  Rishard Matthews is wide open down the middle of the field for an easy conversion, but Mariota doesn’t progress from his first read on Walker, even though the receiver was all but triple covered on this play.  On a crucial third down play, Mariota has to do a better job of scanning the field, because Mathews is open for a major gain on this play. 


Our next play is another one where Mariota is locked in on Walker, although there isn’t a wide-open receiver as the last play.  Walker is matched up with Malik Hooker, and the rookie plays this route perfectly.  The Titans are trying to set a pick play with Decker, trying to force the rookie to go behind Decker, and then throw the pass over him to Walker.  Hooker reads the play perfectly, beats Decker to the cutoff point and blows up the play.  At this point, Mariota should have looked elsewhere because Hooker is in perfect position to defend this pass, since he has inside leverage with the sideline to help him out.  An incomplete pass is about as much as you can hope for in this scenario.  Mariota does have an enticing option to the right of the formation if he abandons the pocket because he has a running back matched up with a linebacker, with no defenders around him.  If Mariota rushes to the right side, the defender needs to go with the running back, at which point Mariota can run for the first down, or the defender has to lunge at the QB, at which point the running back would be open for an easy pass.  However, that isn’t an ideal option for a QB coming off an injury, but this play was a bad read because Hooker defended it perfectly.  


“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” by the poet Robert Burns.  The Titans have a relatively safe set up on this play for a quick pass to Phillip Supernaw, but the Colts linebacker makes a great play on the ball and takes it back for a touchdown.  Mariota needed to put more lift on this pass, but this is just a great play by the defense.  Sometimes, you just have to tip your hat and move on. 


Here is a situation where a small adjustment from the defense throws off the entire plan for the offense.  Eric Decker is lined up in the slot, with a defender that is about 4 yards away from him.  Mariota motions him to the outside, expecting a similar positioning from the defender.  However, the Colts adjust by having the defender play press man coverage, instead of backing off.  This simple move throws off the offense, because the Titans are trying to run a pick route with Matthews on Decker’s defender.  Notice where Matthews runs his route, as it would directly interfere with the defender had he been playing about 4 yards away from Decker.  Since the defender moved closer, the pick route is rendered useless, and the play is well defended.  There can be an argument for holding on this play, but the referees don’t call the penalty.  


The play is in this portion of the breakdown (as opposed to the Lelei Mariota section) because of the result.  However, it’s technically not a bad throw nor a terrible decision on the part of the QB.  It’s a bit concerning that Mariota locked in on Walker once again on a critical third down, but he does make a good decision here.  If you check the route from Walker, he’s going to be open in the middle of the end zone.  His defender is facing the wrong direction and therefore Walker should run right past him.  Unfortunately for the Titans, the referees miss the defender impeding the path of Walker by shoving him towards the back of the end zone.  Notice that Mariota throws this pass to where he expects Walker to be if he wasn’t shoved off-course, which results in an incomplete pass.  One of the biggest steps for a QB in the NFL is learning to anticipate instead of throwing reactively, and Mariota shows a good glimpse of it in this situation.  However, the interference isn’t called, and the team must settle for a field goal. 


As you can see, there were some issues in the passing game this week with Mariota, but they pulled out a victory.  Mariota seemed oddly fixated on Walker in crucial situations to start this game, but corrected as it went along.  I will be writing break down articles and other Titans related news, so please feel free to check back with us, or like us on Social Media. 

Questions for the comments section:

  1. How would you grade Malik Hooker?

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