Christmas day was a holiday to forget for Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Not only was he eliminated from the playoffs after being upset by the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars on Christamas Eve, but to add injury to insult, a freak play led to a fractured fibula late in the game.
So instead of opening gifts while preparing for a playoff-clinching rematch with the Houston Texans, Mariota was preparing for surgery and months of rehab.
Talk about bah humbug…
Mariota spoke to the media on the first day of voluntary workouts a couple of weeks ago, and proclaimed that he would in fact be ready for the 2017-2018 season. When he returns he will have some late Christmas gifts from the Titans…
Some shiny new toys to play with on offense.
Three of Tennessee’s first four draft picks were spent on receiving threats, and it could technically be four.
With the fifth overall pick the Titans selected Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis, who finished his collegiate career with the most receiving yards in FBS history.
A 6-3, 210 pounds, Davis gives Mariota a big target with hands and speed. A true number one receiver, if you will. His arrival allows the rest of the receivers to move down a slot to better reflect their natural skill set.
With all due respect to Rishard Matthews, who had a breakout season last year, he is not an NFL caliber number one guy. With Davis, Matthews should be even more dangerous as the number two.
In the third round the Titans found their speed receiver / deep threat when they drafted Taywan Taylor out of Western Kentucky. Taylor, who runs a 4.3 40 yard dash, will give Mariota plenty of opportunities for big plays as teams stack the line to stop Tennessee’s vaunted smash mouth rushing attack.
And Taylor definitely has the speed/ athleticism edge over last year’s fifth round pick Tajae Sharpe, who I presume will battle him for reps in the slot.
Few quarterbacks utilized their tight ends more than Mariota in his first two years in the league, but recent deflections (Craig Stevens – retired 2016, Anthony Fasano – left via free agency 2017), left the Titans thin at the position.
The Titans addressed that need with their second third round pick…tight end Jonnu Smith out of Florida International.
Smith can stretch the seam of a defense with his 4.5 40 speed, and gives Mariota a much-needed upgrade at the backup position to play behind Pro Bowl starter Delanie Walker.
And if we’re being technical, cornerback Adoree Jackson (18th overall pick) will also be used on offense…giving Mariota another weapon to expand the “exotic’ play packages that coach Mike Mularkey loves to run.
All signs point to Mariota being ready for training camp, so I guess it’ll be Christmas in July from the Titans.