Is Marcus Mariota A Concern As Backup Quarterback?
The Philadelphia Eagles signed Marcus Mariota to a one-year, $5 million contract in March. The decision to bring in a veteran behind Jalen Hurts made sense, especially considering Mariota’s athleticism and comparable style to the franchise quarterback.
Howie Roseman didn’t pay any kind of king’s ransom in this particular deal, after all.
However, Mariota has received underwhelming reviews from media members at training camp this summer. The former second-overall pick showed Eagles fans why on Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens.
Rookie Tanner McKee looked sharp in his first chance to wear midnight green. Mariota looked too eager to take off running. He didn’t lead an efficient offense in a small preseason sample size.
John Kincade spoke about a downgrade at backup quarterback in 2023. Is his concern about losing Gardner Minshew justified?
Berman Speaks About Marcus Mariota
Zach Berman of The Athletic weighed in as a guest on The John Kincade Show.
“I don’t think Marcus Mariota is leading your team to the Super Bowl, if you will, but I don’t think he’s a significant step back from Gardner Minshew. I think there are things Mariota can do with his legs with some off-schedule plays that you like, and he’s won games in this league. He’s had what? Eight different offensive coordinators? He’s seen different systems. He’s your backup quarterback, and I think it’s a little bit reactionary to be concerned about him.” -Berman
Berman also said that Minshew is not necessarily a better option than Mariota behind Jalen Hurts.
“I would probably prefer Minshew, and Minshew had…two years in the offense, but I thought that Minshew wasn’t great in those games he played last year when they had that two-game losing streak. I think Mariota, what he can do with his legs, that’s appealing. I would probably prefer Minshew, but I think they’re fine with Mariota as the backup. You don’t want Jalen Hurts to be out for a month, but I think you can win games with Mariota out there.” -Berman
Expectations for Backups Quarterbacks
Mariota brings a track record of 74 career starts. The Eagles won’t be stuck with an inexperienced quarterback in the event of an injury to Hurts.
“I think as a guy that’s played in the league now for eight years, I’ve been cut. I’ve been a starter. We’ve won playoff games. I’ve been benched. I just really believe that I can relate with a lot of guys,” Mariota said during his first press conference in Philadelphia.
The Eagles needed a legitimate insurance policy for an aggressive runner like Hurts. Their star signal-caller has missed games in each of his two seasons as a starter. He suffered injuries toward the end of both seasons after some significant hits piled up.
While Gardner Minshew had a comparable talent level, the Eagles didn’t lose much. He proved he wasn’t a good option during an 0-2 stretch late in the 2022 season. His brutal performance against the New Orleans Saints on New Year’s Day forced Hurts back into action sooner than the Eagles wanted.
Like Berman said, Mariota could realistically step in for a short-term sub and keep the Eagles afloat. If he had to step in for a long-term stretch, much bigger problems would derail the season anyway.
He might not look pretty in the preseason, but not many backup quarterbacks do. You can hear Zach Berman’s guest appearance below.