Is it time for the Eagles to admit the Marcus Mariota experiment has failed?

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws the ball during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

A wave of nostalgia passed through the City of Philadelphia when it was announced that Marcus Mariota had signed with the Eagles. The former Titans QB was once regarded as the dream signal-caller for Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense and his link to Philadelphia was a strong one. A lot has changed since that 2015 Draft, however, and now fans are left wondering if the Eagles might already be considering an early goodbye.

Marcus Mariota joins the Eagles

Marcus Mariota was never signed to give Jalen Hurts competition. At this point, I doubt there are few who could truly put the $255M man under pressure. He was brought for two reasons.

  • To give some extra insights to the young signal-caller
  • To execute the offense in a pinch if needed

The first one, regardless of what happens on the field, is still extremely valid.

Mariota told reporters in his opening presser: “My role is just to provide information and just share experiences. I think as a guy who has played in the league now for 8 years — I’ve been cut, I’ve been a starter, I’ve won playoff games, I’ve been benched … so I just really believe that I can relate with a lot of guys, and to just continue to build that chemistry in the locker room and be a voice in any way I can.”

I don’t think anyone can put a number on the value Mariota could bring to Jalen Hurts as a mentor and someone who can just give him little tidbits here and there on everything from life in the league, to reading different situations, and bring different tape-based insights.

The second point is where the waters start to become a lot less clear.

Marcus Mariota wobbles during Eagles preseason

Through two preseason games, Marcus Mariota has completed 16 of 28 passes for 144 yards, 0 TD, and an interception. It’s not so much the lack of completions that’s haunting Mariota as much as it is the way he’s missing passes.

The veteran is sailing balls over the heads of his intended targets relentlessly. It feels like every ball just comes out a little too soon and ends up careering 3ft above a wide-open receiver. His struggles have also been noted at Eagles’ Training Camp, where Mariota has been unable to really put together a solid day at the office without a questionable interception or poorly thrown ball.

What doesn’t help matters is that in contrast to Mariota, 6th-round rookie Tanner McKee has been stunning. Stepping into the pocket with a sense of fearlessness and poise about him, the Stanford product has moved the chains effortlessly during his preseason outings.

Eagles Rookie, Tanner McKee, is the complete opposite to Mariota in terms of build. He’s a 6’6, strong-armed pocket passer who was renowned at Stanford for avoiding turnovers. However, he’s hardly the most athletically gifted in the world.

Eagles nfl preseason
ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 06: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) watches the game clock run out from the sidelines during the 2nd half of Sunday afternoon NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Chargers on November 6, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

If the perk of bringing in Marcus Mariota was that in the event Jalen Hurts gets injured, there’s a quarterback who can still run the RPO-based offense, then there has to be an element of concern. Mariota can still run – that much is clear. But as a passer? Can you rely on Mariota to manage a game? Hold a lead? Sustain a drive? Win a game?

What should the Eagles do?

Howie Roseman is stuck in a tricky situation. He either sticks with the hand he dealt and accepts Marcus Mariota for what he is, crossing his fingers that he won’t ever be needed to come into a live NFL game, or, he seeks out another veteran arm who can at least manage a game in a pinch.

Nick Foles was hardly the same QB as Carson Wentz but the Eagles still won a Super Bowl with him at the helm. Perhaps it’s time for Roseman to admit that the Marcus Mariota experiment may be more hassle than it’s worth…unless the value he brings to Jalen Hurts as a mentor far exceeds what fans are seeing on the field.

AP Photo/Derik Hamilton