The Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts square off Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in a game with huge late-November playoff implications, but it is also a matchup between two of the bright young quarterbacks in the NFL…
Marcus Mariota and Andrew Luck.
On the surface the two qb’s are polar opposites given the style of offense they run. Mariota leads a run-first style of offense predicated on dominating the line of scrimmage, while Luck is the architect of Indy’s high-powered pass-first attack.
Beyond the surface, however, the two are eerily similar…on and off the field.
Both quarterbacks had prolific collegiate careers while playing on the west coast. Mariota at Oregon, and Luck at Stanford.
Both were highly touted NFL prospects, and they were each selected in the top two picks of their respective drafts. Luck was the number one overall pick in 2012, Mariota was the second player selected in 2015.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Heading into their respective drafts, both qb’s had equally touted, Heisman Trophy winning counterparts. Robert Griffin III was analyzed and compared to Luck ad nauseam heading into the 2012 draft, while Jameis Winston played the part of Mariota’s counterpart last season.
And coincidentally, both Mariota and Luck watched their counterparts earn NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year awards.
Both qb’s were drafted by teams with 2-14 records the prior year. The Colts won just two games in the now infamous “Suck for Luck” campaign in 2011, while the Titans lost their last ten games of the 2014 season prior to selecting Mariota.
And the similarities do not end there….
On The Field
Andrew Luck was the day one starter in Indianapolis, and in his first two seasons he started all 32 regular season games. He completed 57% of his passes for 8,196 yards and 46 touchdowns.
Marcus Mariota was also the day one starter in Tennessee, but a couple of knee injuries cost him four games last season. In 22 starts Mariota has completed 63% of his passes for 5,300 yards and 40 touchdowns.
While throwing the ball has been the calling card for Luck and Mariota in the NFL, they are both dangerous weapons when they escape the pocket.
In his first 32 regular season games Luck ran for 632 yards (5 yards per attempt), with nine rushing touchdowns.
In his first 22 games Mariota has rushed for 487 yards (6.7 yards per attempt), with four rushing touchdowns.
For all of their eye-popping stats, both Luck and Mariota have had their issues with ball security.
Luck accounted for 27 interceptions and 14 lost fumbles in his first 32 regular season starts, while Mariota has thrown 18 interceptions with nine lost fumbles after 22 starts.
We have to call this one a tie. Both Luck and Mariota were handed the keys to their respective franchises the day their names were called by Commissioner Roger Goodell, and both have represented their franchises with poise and class.
While the style of offense they run makes this tale of the tape an apples-to-oranges comparison, one thing is certain. Both the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts are happy with their selection, and I am sure that their fan bases share their sentiment.
Andrew Luck just received a well deserved $140 million contract extension from the Colts, and at the rate Marcus Marioa is progressing, he will benefit from an equally lucrative extension when the time comes as well.
Looks like we’ll be seeing Mariota vs Luck for years to come in the AFC South.