Second-year Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has impressed a lot of people over his time in Tennessee, including future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
“I really like Marcus,’’ Manning said Sunday during the CBS broadcast of the Titans’ 24-17 loss to the Colts. “I have known him for a long time. He has been to our football camp down in Louisiana every year and he has gotten better every year. Playing is your best experience, and he has improved.
“I am a big fan, a big fan.”
The Titans are 5-6 and third in the AFC South, but it’s not because of Mariota’s play. Mariota has thrown 23 touchdowns so far this season and just eight interceptions. The Titans are the top team in the NFL for red-zone efficiency, scoring on 75 percent of trips inside the 20-yard line, and that’s due in large part to Mariota’s play.
Manning was selected by the Colts in the 1998 draft out of the University of Tennessee and built a Hall of Fame career in Indianapolis and with the Denver Broncos. Manning led the Colts to a Super Bowl XLI victory, and he retired after winning Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos following the 2015 season.
His close ties to Tennessee, however, made the Titans a logical landing spot when he was released by the Colts following the 2011 season. Manning ended up with the Broncos, but told The Tennessean following his retirement that he was “pretty close” to choosing the Titans.
There’s still a chance that Manning could end up in Tennessee working with Mariota. The Titans may look to Manning as a candidate for a position in the front office. The opportunity to mentor Mariota and help shape his career should be appealing.
It worked out fine for Manning, who ended up with a second Super Bowl ring thanks to his decision to sign with the Broncos, and so far, it seems like the Titans got a good quarterback in Mariota, also.