In defense of Marcus Mariota, could he have been Titans X-factor in win?

The Tennessee Titans are heading to the AFC Championship after knocking off the No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens 28-12 Saturday night. 

Their road to this point has been an improbable one. They benched starting quarterback Marcus Mariota after the team started the season 2-4. 

Any sort of benefit of the doubt or long leash he might have gotten finally withered away.

Enter Ryan Tannehill

The Titans under Tannehill went 7-3 to end the season and earned a Wild Card berth. 

They shocked the world by beating the New England Patriots on the road. 

And they did it again by beating the No. 1 team in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens. 

Many people would like to attribute the Titans success to the benching of Marcus Mariota. 

While people pour on Mariota, he remains a hard worker and a good teammate. 

And while some people say Tannehill was the answer, it’s not like he lit up the stat sheet in the Titans two playoff games. 

Tannehill has 72 yards and 88 yards passing, respectively.  

Derrick Henry‘s performance will be lauded as one of the greatest performances of the postseason, rushing for 195 yards in the Titans win. 

But Mariota played a unique role for the Titans this week. He simulated QB Lamar Jackson as the Titans prepared for the Ravens. 

There’s not many teams that have a 26-year-old backup quarterback with the pedigree that Mariota holds. A mobile QB, Heisman Trophy level talent, starting experience. 

Could he have been the difference maker, the X-factor for Tennessee?

Lamar Jackson got his, throwing for 365 yards and rushing for 143 yards. But he was picked twice and was held without a rushing touchdown. 

The Titans moved away from Mariota. They had every right to do that. But he remains an integral piece in for the franchise. Whether he’ll be on the Titans next season remains to be seen, but piling on seems like low hanging fruit. 

Congratulations to the Tennessee Titans!

In defense of Marcus Mariota, could he have been Titans X-factor in win? originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest