Mike Mularkey made some pretty strange decisions when he was in charge of the Titans, but Mike Vrabel is ready to trump him this weekend.
The Titans lost more than just a football game against the Dolphins in Week 1. A rash of serious injuries also befell the Tennessee roster. And Mike Vrabel is choosing to deal with his most important injury in a really foolish way.
The Titans’ boss told reporters on Friday that he expects both Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert to play against the Texans. Mariota, the Week 1 starter, sustained an elbow injury against Miami that’s limited him in practice this week. The team hasn’t divulged many details about his malady, but the fact that he’s on pace to play this weekend seems like a good sign.
It also makes the plan to give Gabbert playing time a really poor decision. There’s zero question who the most talented signal caller on the roster is. Mariota is far from a perfect player, but he’s worlds better than his backup. If Mariota’s elbow is good enough to play one snap against Houston’s defense, it should be good enough to play all four quarters.
It’s not as if Mariota has lost all of his sharpness after missing several days of practice. He might be a little rusty early against the Texans, but it’s nothing that shouldn’t dissipate by the second quarter.
The only logical reason for Vrabel wanting to play Gabbert is if he has serious doubts over whether or not Mariota is his franchise quarterback of the future. That’s a reasonable concern given Mariota’s injury history as a professional. It is not, however, reasonable to think Gabbert might be the answer. If the Titans want to find a new quarterback they need to do it in the offseason, not in Week 2.
All Vrabel can really accomplish by playing Gabbert significant snaps against the Texans is to confuse his offensive players. The two quarterbacks don’t exactly have the same skill set. Mariota can hurt defenses out on the edge with his feet, while Gabbert is almost exclusively a pocket passer. The play calling for both players should be drastically different.
Vrabel is obviously desperate to avoid a fatal 0-2 start, but toggling back and forth between Mariota and Gabbert is only going to plunge his team further into mediocrity. If Mariota is healthy on Sunday he needs to get all of the work for the Titans.