Marcus Mariota’s health is the topic of conversation among Titans fans as another semi-successful season comes to a close in Nashville. There are very clearly two camps on Mariota at this point. One camp firmly believes Mariota to be fragile and injury prone after failing to play a full 16 game season for the fourth straight year. The other camp believes that Mariota has had some bad injury luck, but mostly points the finger at the offensive line and/or coaching staffs for putting him in harm’s way too often.
The question of whether Marcus Mariota can be the Titans franchise quarterback remains at the forefront of any discussion about the future of this team, so let’s take a look at the quarterback’s injury history and how it stacks up to other quarterbacks around the league.
Mariota Injury History
Mariota suffered a sprained MCL during his fifth game of the season as then-Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon dove low into the quarterback’s left knee as he delivered a pass. It was a clear cheap shot. Mariota tried to finish the game, but was clearly hobbled and eventually was pulled for Zach Mettenberger. He would miss the next two games before returning to the lineup.
He was healthy for six games after returning, but suffered a sprain to his right knee against the Patriots when a blown blitz pickup by Antonio Andrews resulted in a sack. The Titans chose to shut him down for the final two games of a 3-13 lost season.
Games Left: 2
Games Missed: 4
Mariota’s best season as a pro — and not coincidentally his healthiest — came in his second year. He was healthy for the first 14 games of the season before Jaguars defensive tackle Sheldon Day tackled him from behind as he was escaping the pocket, landing on him awkwardly and breaking his leg. Mariota would miss the final game of the season and spend most of the following offseason rehabbing from the surgery required to repair his leg.
Games Left: 1
Games Missed: 1
Mariota managed to heal and be ready in time for the Titans opener to start the 2017 season. He was OK through the first three games, but injured his hamstring diving for the goal line against the Texans in Week 4 on a designed roll out. He would miss just one game, but was clearly hampered for several more after returning.
While that was the only injury that would cost him playing time, Mariota was banged up towards the end of this season. He had a minor knee injury during the Cardinals game and appeared to be hobbled at the end of the Bengals game as well, but didn’t miss any time from those issues. Though he played through injuries throughout this season, his production was pretty clearly affected by them, turning in his worst statistical season of his career.
Games Left: 1
Games Missed: 1
A healthy offseason and a new offense gave some hope that this season would see Mariota return to his 2016 form, but things went sideways immediately. Another dirty hit from a Dolphins defender left Mariota with an injured ulnar nerve in his throwing arm that caused numbness in his throwing hand and a loss of grip strength. Again, Mariota tried to play through the issue, but sailed two passes for interceptions immediately following the injury and was pulled from the game. He would miss the next start, but return off the bench in Week 3 to replace an injured Blaine Gabbert. Mariota would play that game and the next four with a specially made glove on his throwing hand to help him grip the ball.
He was mostly excellent after returning from the bye without the glove until he went down hard on a sack against the Colts. Mariota was diagnosed with a stinger and removed from the game. He returned to play the next game and, again, seemed to be effective. Finally, Mariota went down with what the team has called a stinger against the Redskins and did not return before missing the final game of the season.
Games Left: 3
Games Missed: 2