Titans coach Mike Vrabel expects both Blaine Gabbert, Marcus Mariota to play against Texans
The Titans might be rolling out one strange quarterback timeshare on Sunday
The Texans might need to prepare for one-and-half quarterbacks ahead of their Week 2 matchup with the Titans, because Titans coach Mike Vrabel sounds like he's considering playing both Marcus Mariota (one quarterback) and Blaine Gabbert (half of an NFL quarterback) on Sunday.
This is going to sound strange, but on Friday, Vrabel told reporters that he anticipates Gabbert and Mariota will both play against the Texans, which would make for one of the more curious quarterback timeshares in NFL history. No coach should ever try to create a quarterback timeshare, especially when the second of the two quarterbacks is Blaine Gabbert, but that's what Vrabel indicated he's doing this week -- for reasons unknown.
"(He's) trying," Vrabel said of Mariota, per the team's website. "We are evaluating. We anticipate both of those guys playing in the game, OK? We are going to have to do a lot of things to win this football game, and I would anticipate both of those guys playing at some point and time. Marcus is going to do everything he can to get ready, like every player is going to do everything they can to get ready for the game on Sunday."
As Vrabel alluded to, Mariota isn't entirely healthy. He left the team's Week 1 loss to the Dolphins with . Mariota practiced fully on Wednesday, but was limited on Thursday and Friday. He's officially listed as questionable.
If Mariota isn't healthy, Gabbert would slot in as the starter. That really is the only scenario that would make sense for Gabbert to garner some reps. He should only be playing in the event Mariota is unable to play, which is why Vrabel's plan sounds so strange.
It's simple. If Mariota is hurt, then Gabbert and only Gabbert should play. If Mariota is healthy, then Mariota and only Mariota should play. Both quarterbacks should only play if Mariota starts and leaves the game with an injury, which could very well happen considering the Titans are down both of their starting tackles -- Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin -- against J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney.
There's no question that Mariota's been struggling for the past year-plus. Last season, he threw two more interceptions than touchdowns and accumulated a 79.3 passer rating. In his first game under this new coaching staff, before he left injured, he threw two interceptions, no touchdowns, and posted a 36.2 passer rating.
But the Titans once invested the second-overall pick in Mariota. The biggest reason they probably fired a coach who took them to the playoffs is because that coach, Mike Mularkey, wasn't putting Mariota in a scheme best suited for his skillset. Even though Mariota has struggled recently, the Titans have no real reason to give up on him now. This season is all about Mariota's development. Potentially dropping him -- for Gabbert of all quarterbacks -- one game into his first season in a new system would be borderline insane.
If Gabbert really does steal away some reps from a healthy Mariota, it probably won't go well. For as bad as Mariota's been recently, consider that Gabbert's career passer rating rests at 71.1. Even at Mariota's worst, he's better than Gabbert.
We can't judge Vrabel's plan until we actually see it in action, but in the meantime, consider the majority of the NFL community skeptical.
Confused by Mike Vrabel's comment on his QB situation. If Marcus Mariota (elbow) can play, he's going to share time with Blaine Gabbert?— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) September 14, 2018
No one can possibly think Gabbert gives you a better chance to win in 2018, right? https://t.co/fusuR5u8YT— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) September 14, 2018
You know the saying “if you have two quarterbacks, you have none”? How does that axiom work when you have one quarterback and Blaine Gabbert? https://t.co/zl9mS4yUBz— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) September 14, 2018
I am not here for a Marcus Mariota / Blaine Gabbert QB timeshare pic.twitter.com/qh5j7yr2iv— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) September 14, 2018
Generally speaking, if you have an opportunity to not use Blaine Gabbert, you won't. https://t.co/7ZjbhW43BV— Boys & Gurleys In America (@CTowersCBS) September 14, 2018
The better explanation might be that Vrabel doesn't want the Texans to know who they're going to face on Sunday, so he decided to say both quarterbacks will play to force the Texans to prepare for Mariota and Gabbert. But a simpler way to accomplish that would've been for him to just say he's not sure if Mariota will play or not. For now, it's not wrong to assume the Titans will actually play Gabbert and Mariota on Sunday, because that's what their coach is saying two days before the game.
The Titans were thought to have upgraded at head coach when they swapped out Mularkey for Vrabel, but if Vrabel really does play Gabbert with Mariota healthy enough to play -- I'm still skeptical it'll actually happen -- it might already be time to question if Vrabel knows what heck he's doing. Quarterback timeshares almost never work. It almost certainly won't work with Gabbert as one of the two quarterbacks.
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