Mariota and Winston Year Two

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will be forever linked. These two met in the very first College Football Playoff Game at the Rose Bowl. They came into the game carrying the last two Heisman Trophies and the previous year's National Championship. The first half of the game was really good, but the second half was Mariota and his Oregon Ducks running up a huge score on Jameis and his Florida State Seminoles. They met again in their first NFL game after both were selected with the first two picks in the NFL Draft; Winston #1 by the Tampa Bay Bucs and Marcus #2 by the Tennessee Titans. Different uniforms, different leagues, both getting a hefty pay check, but similar results as Mariota again lit up Winston's team. It looked as if the Titans were geniuses at the time, but by season's end, it looked as if the Bucs may have gotten the better quarterback. Winston had the Bucs to 6-6 at one point, thinking they might have a shot at the playoffs. The “P” word was never uttered in Nashville though as Mariota ended up going 3-9. However, upon further review, Marcus had some really good stats. He passed for 19 touchdowns compared to only 10 interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 91.0. If he keeps that QBR over 90, he will be very successful and so will the Titans. Winston was also very good, especially for a rookie. He threw for 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and his QBR was 84.2. Not too shabby. So what will happen in their second year? You've heard of the “Sophomore Jinx” of course. There is a reason for that. Many times, that second season can be tough. Defensive coordinators have film on you now, and you now have expectations you that were not there in your rookie season. But, these guys have dealt with a lot of pressure for several years now. College football, especially at the top of the sport, is every bit the pressure cooker the NFL is. And there was no shortage of film from college ball for the defensive coordinators to check out. It seems evident that the second year will only get better for these two young talents.  Both Winston and Mariota seem to grasp their offenses very well, and can also read defenses. This is seen when you notice the low number of interceptions each threw. They should only get better in this area the more they play. They also both have fantastic leadership qualities. Even as rookies, it was clear that they were the voice of their respective teams. Neither shied away from the press even after things did not always go well.  These are not easy things to do as a rookie. The Bucs schedule includes the Arizona Cardinals, Broncos, Bears, Chiefs, and Chargers as well as the six NFC South teams.  While Tennessee has the Dolphins, Chargers, Packers, Vikings, Lions and Bears as well as the Raiders, Browns and their six games against the AFC South. Both of those schedules have some land mines, but both could be a lot tougher. Both of these teams should go into the season with playoff aspirations. Will both make it? Probably not. Of the two, the Bucs have the best chance, but making the playoffs for any team in the highly competitive NFL is never an easy task.
Joe Mason
Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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