The Titans Have To Draft Mariota or Trade For Rivers

NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 12: Ryan Succop #8 of the Tennessee Titans on the sidelines during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field on October 12, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Jaguars 16-14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 29: Running back Kenjon Barner #24, and quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks, watch from the sidelines near the end of the game against the Washington State Cougars on September 29, 2012 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Photo Illustration/FOXSports.com Getty Images North America

The Tennessee Titans are the most boring franchise in the NFL. 

There’s not even a close second. 

Even Jacksonville Jaguar fans are like, “Man, the Titans are boring as hell to watch.”

The team is bland, disinteresting, and just plain awful. Watching the Titans play football is the functional equivalent of watching paint dry. Except with less suspense. 

You want to know how bad it has been for first round Titan quarterbacks in the past six years? Vince Young went bankrupt and is out of the league, Jake Locker retired at 26 years old, and Steve McNair got murdered by his mistress.

I mean, has any franchise ever had a worse string of quarterback results in six years? 

The Titans haven’t had a face of the franchise since Cortland Finnegan. 

Which reminds me. 

CORTLAND FINNEGAN WAS THE FACE OF THE FRANCHISE. 

The Titans coach, Ken Whisenhunt, is an asshole who got booed at a recent WWE event. Everyone hates him in the building and he’s gone 3-25 in his last 28 games as an NFL head coach. 

3-25!

That’s almost impossible to pull off in the NFL, where on any given Sunday any team can beat another team. (Unless they’re playing the Titans). 

This means that if Ken Whisenhunt and I had both coached 28 NFL games at best he would be three games better than me. And I’d probably win at least one game, right? Plus, at least I would be an entertaining coach. And at least people would like me in the building. I knew the Titans were fucked when Whisenhunt, and I’m not making this up, eliminated free smoothies for media members at training camp. I understand that details matter in the NFL. But if you’re worried about free smoothies at the facility maybe you could be focusing on more important issues? Such as winning football games?

Just an idea.

The Titans also have the worst ownership structure in the league. They used to have Tommy Smith, who took over last year as owner after Bud Adams died. The only thing Tommy Smith had successfully managed prior to taking over the Titans was a fork to his mouth. But then the Titans “brain trust” forced Tommy Smith out of the ownership role and brought in Steve Underwood, a random lawyer from Texas who retired several years ago after telling me that the Titans were set for success thanks to the four hundred years of coaching experience they had on the staff. The Titans were not “set for success.” They sucked.  

Evidently the team needed eight hundred years of experience to win a few football games. 

Anyway, this brings me to tomorrow’s first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Titans have the second overall pick and everyone is excited but also terrified that the team will screw things up. We’re all deathly afraid the Titans will trade the second pick, get two first round picks and immediately draft a right tackle and a guard. (I wish I was joking).

The NFL draft drags on for so long that it makes some teams do batshit crazy things. This decision should not be complicated. I’m going to write these next three sentences in all caps because some people still don’t realize it and if you don’t realize this you are an idiot. 

ALL THAT MATTERS IN THE NFL IS YOUR QUARTERBACK. IF YOU HAVE A GOOD QUARTERBACK YOUR TEAM IS GOOD. IF YOU HAVE A BAD QUARTERBACK YOUR TEAM SUCKS.

That’s it. 

This isn’t rocket science.  

The idea that if you have a good defensive end or a great wide receiver or a stud running back or solid defensive backs that your team can win a Super Bowl is a total myth. Parity is a total illusion in today’s NFL. There are around 12 good quarterbacks in the NFL, the other twenty teams suck and have no chance of winning a Super Bowl. That’s the brutal truth. So if you want to get better you have to find a franchise quarterback.

Period.

Nothing else matters.   

So here’s what the Titans have to do — either draft Marcus Mariota with the second pick or trade for Philip Rivers. (The Bucs are drafting Jameis Winston, don’t buy the manufactured drama here.) I’m fine with either move. I’d actually prefer Rivers because we know he’s a top 12 quarterback in the league and at 33 years old he’s probably got four or five really good years left in him. (Remember that Peyton Manning is 39 and Tom Brady is 38. In today’s NFL the only three positions that anyone can play after the age of 35 are punter, kicker, and quarterback.) Rivers would have the Titans in the playoffs two of the next five seasons. He’d immediately put them in contention to win the division if the Colts stumble at all. 

It will be a disaster if the Titans draft second and take anyone other than a quarterback because that’s a total waste of a pick. Trading down and getting more picks is also a waste unless you believe that Zach Mettenberger is a top 12 quarterback in the league. Otherwise you still have to find a franchise quarterback at some point.

For illustration’s sake, does everyone agree that J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the league right now? Of course he is. Do you know how many playoff games his team has won in four seasons? Two. A wildcard game in 2011 and 2012. Do you know how many times they’ve been to the playoffs in the past two seasons, during which time Watt has been the most dominant defensive player in the league without question? Zero. Because his quarterback sucks.

Let me repeat for you once again. 

ALL THAT MATTERS IN THE NFL IS YOUR QUARTERBACK.   

Marcus Mariota isn’t a “scrambling quarterback,” he’s a quarterback who occasionally scrambles. He’s 6’4″ and 230 pounds too, a prototypical pocket passer’s size. He’s Colin Kaepernick with better mechanics, a bigger Russell Wilson. He’s much more akin to Steve Young than he is to Vince Young. And unlike Jake Locker, he’s accurate. Mariota’s thrown 101 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his career at Oregon. That’s the greatest touchdown to interception ratio among quarterbacks with at least 25 touchdown passes in the history of modern college football. He’s also completed 68 percent of his passes and he’s passing the ball down the field, not just throwing within ten yards of the line of scrimmage. Oh, and he’s a saint off the field, the perfect face of a franchise for a city that desperately needs a decent guy to represent the team in public.

If he’s not a stud, so what, you draft another quarterback in three years and try again. But if he is your guy — as I think he will be — well, your franchise is set for the next decade or more. What’s more, quarterbacks don’t cost very much if you miss on them now. The Titans have drafted two quarterbacks in the top eight over the past eight years, Vince Young at third in 2006 and Jake Locker at eighth in 2011. Both bombed.

But here’s the deal, Vince Young cost over fifty million, hamstringing the franchise’s ability to surround him with talent. But Jake Locker? Thanks to the new salary cap he only cost the team $12 million over four years. That’s nothing. Jake Locker bombing cost the team forty million less than Vince Young bombing. That’s a financial reality that most fans haven’t grasped yet. You can afford to draft more quarterbacks until you find one who works. For those who believe in Zach Mettenberger, fine, let he and Mariota compete for the top job. It makes no sense to me that you let quarterbacks compete in college — where every top college signs a new four or five star quarterback every year — and then treat them like delicate orchids once they reach the NFL. Let Mariota and Mettenberger duel to see who is the best. I think Mariota will win out, but if he doesn’t then Mettenberger is really good. And the Titans franchise will finally have hope.

If you don’t draft Mariota then you trade for Philip Rivers and he’s your starter for the next five years. These are the only two options for the Tennessee Titans. 

It isn’t a complicated decision.

You have two options, both are good. One guarantees you a franchise quarterback for the next five years and the other gives you a really good shot at finding your quraterback of the future.  

Please, for the love of God, don’t screw this up. Get Rivers or get Mariota. 

And finally give Titans fans something to look forward to.    

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.