Jameis Winston was drafted one pick ahead of Marcus Mariota last season, as you know. Both finished their rookie year after rather successfully. I will take a look at year two to compare and contrast to see if one could out do the other.
Year one started out in heavy favor for Marcus Mariota after the shellacking the Titans gave the Bucs in week 1 of the NFL season. People were claiming that Jameis Winston was a bust after week one and Mariota was the better of the two, but you can’t really blame Jameis for the loss. Mariota was nearly flawless going 13/15 for 209 yards with four touchdowns. Now was Mariota really that good or was the Bucs’ defense really just that bad? I’d like to believe the latter.
Jameis did not start out too hot, throwing a pick six for his first career NFL pass, but he was able to settle in a little during the rest of the game. Winston came out of college being known as a pocket gun slinging risk taker and Mariota was the speedy shotgun quick slant tosser, which was a problem for the Bucs all season. Bishop Sankey even had his best game of the year against the Bucs.
Trust me, Mariota deserved to be praised after starting year one on such a high note but he came back down to Earth after a few weeks in the NFL.
Marcus Mariota only played in eleven and a half games this season and posted some impressive numbers; passing for 2,818 yards, 19 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions, good enough for a 91.5 QBR. Known for his athleticism he ran 34 times for 252 yards and two touchdowns.
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Marcus was also known for his lack of turnovers in college but the NFL is very different than college. After throwing only 14 interceptions and fumbling 27 times (11 lost) while at Oregon, he threw ten interceptions, fumbled ten times, losing six in his rookie year with the Titans. That’s more than half of what he had in three seasons at the NCAA level. They were solid numbers, but he will need to keep the ball secure if he wants a better 2016 campaign.
Mariota is on a team that only won three games last season and though he can’t take all the blame he didn’t have as big of an impact other rookie quarterbacks have had. The Titans’ defense was below average and had one of the worst receiver/running back groupings in the NFL. Delanie Walker is a great tight end but he’s no Rob Gronkowski.
The Titans needed some life brought into their offense and in the off-season they definitely gained some much-needed talent. Not only did they trade for DeMarco Murray but they drafted a beast Derrick Henry to solidify the backfield. They also drafted Jack Conklin to help bolster the offensive line.
Winston had a rough start to his NFL career, as stated earlier, but grew quickly right before our eyes. Had it not been for a porous defense Winston could’ve brought this team to relevancy in his first season. After having the third most passing yards for a rookie in NFL history Winston proved to be a NFL capable quarterback and team leader. Winston compiled 4,042 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, good enough for an 84.2 QBR.
Winston not only showed off his passing ability but had the athleticism to rush for 219 yards and six touchdowns, most by a rookie since Cam Newton who had 14 in 2011. Winston’s numbers could’ve been even higher if he didn’t have a plague of injuries and too many drops by key wide receivers. Vincent Jackson was hurt, Louis Murphy hurt, Kenny Bell hurt, Austin Seferian-Jenkins hurt, and Mike Evans was apparently missing his hands.
The Bucs won six games but easily could have won two or three more if it hadn’t been for horrible kicking early in the season and multiple injuries to key players on offense and defense. Now with Lovie Smith out of the picture and a second season under Dirk Koetter’s tutelage Winston can have an even better sophomore campaign.
In my final, non-biased opinion, I believe that Winston will more passing yards, touchdowns, and wins than Marcus Mariota in year two of their careers. Marcus will still out-do Winston in the turnover category and rushing numbers but Winston has a better all around team with Doug Martin and Mike Evans on offense and Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy on defense. I don’t believe that either of them will turn out to be a bust but I feel that Jameis Winston will have a more productive second season than Marcus Mariota.