The Tennessee Titans‘ dress rehearsal against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football was pretty miserable. Rain fell continuously throughout the matchup, the Titans failed to score a touchdown for the first time in three weeks and quarterback Marcus Mariota did not have the outing he was hoping for.
Mariota failed to complete one of his three passing attempts and was sacked for a safety on the Titans’ second series. That was Mariota’s last play, as head coach Mike Vrabel elected to pull him from the game.
Vrabel told reporters afterward that he had planned to play Mariota more, but with the problems the offensive line had protecting him, he made the decision to pull his starter.
“We want to make sure that we can protect our quarterback — that’s important,” Vrabel said, via the Titans’ official website. “It’s imperative that we do that as a staff and we do that as an offensive group. … I wanted to see how the game was going, and at that point in time I thought it was in the team’s best interest and in everybody’s best interest that we get him out of the game at that point in time.”
The former No. 2 overall pick is entering his fifth season and questions still remain if he’s the future at the position for Tennessee. He’s had to battle through both inconsistent play as well as injuries during his short career, which is why the Titans went out and traded for former Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill this offseason. The Titans’ 2018 backup quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, was forced into the spotlight in a Week 17 win-or-go-home situation and failed to get the job done, and general manager Jon Robinson made it a point to never to find himself in that situation again.
Now, with another capable quarterback on the roster, many are wondering if the Titans would ever make the switch to Tannehill. The Titans aren’t hosting an open quarterback competition, but Mariota has never played a full 16 games. If/when he gets hurt and Tannehill comes in and impresses, what would happen?
The offensive line is another question. On paper they look pretty good: Taylor Lewan, Rodger Saffold, Ben Jones and Jack Conklin as the starters — with the only question mark being at right guard. The reality might be a little different. According to Pro Football Focus, this group (minus the offseason addition in Saffold) finished No. 29 in the NFL in pass protection last year. They certainly struggled again on Sunday night.
To make matters worse, the Titans will be without their three-time Pro Bowl left tackle in Lewan for the first four games of the season.
Ultimately, the preseason doesn’t matter and some aren’t worried at all about what happened on Sunday night. Still, the Titans’ starters got bullied by the Steelers. You would have liked to see Tennessee come out and perform well in their dress rehearsal, and for Mariota to complete at least one pass.