By: Brendan Smart ( @ bsmart21 )
The Tennessee Titans look to come into the season this year with as much hype as I've witnessed since dating back to the "Smash and Dash" years. This of course was the era made famous by then Titans running back tandem, LenDale White and Chris Johnson, during the 2008-2010 seasons. There is definitely cause for excitement considering that the Titans seem to have drafted their quarterback of the future in Marcus Mariota, possibly filling a void that has been left empty since trading away legendary franchise quarterback Steve McNair. Mariota, the reigning Heisman trophy winner, had a great college career at Oregon where he led the Ducks as a freshman to a 12-1 record including winning the Fiesta Bowl MVP. Mariota has a decorated college career, and a ton of respect to go along with the awards. Mariota finally signed his contract a week before training camp due to what was described as "offset language," detailing concerns about Mariota's leisure activities off of the field. This meant basically that the Titans did not want Marcus Mariota participating in one of his passions, surfing, during the offseason. This may be looked at as an unfair or peculiar clause in a contract, but for the Titans it’s just a source of security in an attempt to protect their investment in Mariota's future with the team. Since Mariota was drafted, there has been nothing but compliments on his skills. Titans fans have seen other quarterbacks fail to live up to the expectations of being the franchise quarterback since McNair; namely Vince Young and Jake Locker, but the Titans believe that Mariota has the tools to carry the mantle. On top of his physical tools, he also possesses a high level football IQ unlike Titans quarterbacks of recent past.