First Impressions: Winston vs. Mariota
Not good. That was my impression when analyzing the Tampa Bay and Tennessee rookie quarterbacks over preseason week number one. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were taken number one and two overall in this years NFL Draft. Not that either guy completely bombed, but both left the door open for the question to be asked, should they be the week one starters for their teams?
Jameis looked way to amped up for his first NFL action against Minnesota on Saturday night. He was missing guys badly, threw one pick, was sacked twice, and finished with a QB rating of 48. While his backup Mike Glennon wasn’t much better from a numbers standpoint, he did look more comfortable, took care of the ball and finished with a QB rating of 70. You also take into consideration Glennon started five games last season and was able to form chemistry between himself and the Bucs star wideouts, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.
Winston did score a rushing TD but for the most part looked awkward when taking off to run with the ball. The few times he did take off with the ball, he quickly and clumsily got to the ground.
Mariota looked far more comfortable under center than Winston, but he turned the ball over twice in the first quarter against Atlanta on Friday night. He did appear to shake off the bad start however, even laughing it off with coach Whisenhunt on the sideline. His numbers were not bad for his first NFL action. He went 7-of-8 for 94 yards and QB rating of 76.
The problem for Mariota is that his backup, second year QB from LSU, Zach Mettenberger, was really impressive. Mettenberger was 8-for-11 with 129 yards, one TD and a QB rating of 104. While Mariota looked comfortable, Mettenberger looked commanding. Before the draft this year, the Titans had a decision to make about Mettenberger, put all trust in the second year player, or draft Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick. They obviously decided Mariota was the guy.
In no way am I saying this first preseason game is a glimpse into either guy’s legitimacy. You have to expect nerves to come into play with a rookie quarterback playing his first few minutes in the NFL. I also understand that when you take a quarterback with the first or second overall pick in the draft, that guy is expected to be the starter. But is that what is best for the team coming out of the gates? Mike Glennon could be a very good quarterback in the NFL, we just haven’t had time to determine that yet. Same goes for Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger and his agent were actually wanting to be traded after the Titans took Mariota in the draft with the second pick and all but named him the opening day starter.
I myself was on board with drafting Leonard Williams with the second overall pick and let Mettenberger take over the reigns as starting QB. I would have even probably went with Amari Cooper or Melvin Gordon before drafting Mariota. But that’s why I talk about NFL decision making instead of making NFL decisions. I also don’t want to sound like I am overreacting and second guessing the pick. My point going into the draft was that you still don’t know what Zach Mettenberger is. He could be really good, we just don’t know yet. If you would have made the decision to give Mettenberger the team this year, you could have seriously upgraded your team by taking another position with the second overall pick.
The likelihood of Winston and Mariota not being the starters when their teams square off in week one is slim to none. A lot closer to none. But going into the first preseason game, neither guy was going through what I would call an open competition for the role of starting QB. It will be interesting to see if that is what develops as the preseason continues. I will say this, if I am Ken Whisenhunt, I have already made up my mind that Mettenberger is in deed competing for the starting QB position.
Do you think Tampa Bay and Tennessee should be open to the idea of Mike Glennon and Zach Mettenberger starting for their teams in week 1? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Brandon Reid covers the NFL and Tennessee Titans for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid