The LA Chargers are seemingly going to turn the offense over to Tyrod Taylor for at least one season, which will yield the same results as if they gave the job to Marcus Mariota.
Marcus Mariota agreed to a two-year, $17.6 million contract (h/t Mike Garafolo, NFL Network) with the Las Vegas Raiders to be their backup and is making $7.5 million this season. Tyrod Taylor, projected starting quarterback of the LA Chargers, has been evaluated in the same manner, as he too is making $7.5 million this season.
There seems to be a stark contrast between Taylor and Mariota. Those that were vying for Taylor to be the starting quarterback of the LA Chargers in 2020 would likely scoff at the idea of Mariota being the starting quarterback.
The similarities run deeper than their salaries this season, or the fact that both agreed to two-year deals and Mariota could very well be the Raiders’ version of Tyrod Taylor next year if they pull the plug on Derek Carr.
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Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Mariota are very similar quarterbacks. One is a sixth-round pick, the other is a first-round pick, but both bring the exact same value to their teams. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the numbers.
To fairly compare Taylor and Mariota we decided to look at the last three full seasons that both men got to be starting quarterbacks. That means we are not using Taylor’s terrible game and a half with the Cleveland Browns and Mariota’s half-season with the Titans in 2019.
This range is not just the last three seasons that both men started a full year, but are the three best years of both men’s careers. We are not comparing a downswing for Taylor with an upswing for Mariota.
In those three seasons, Taylor completed 774 of 1,236 passes (62.6 percent), threw for 8,857 yards, 51 touchdowns (4.1 touchdown percentage), 16 interceptions (1.3 interception percentage), a 92.5 passer rating and had a starting record of 20-22.
Mariota, on the other hand, completed 785 of 1,235 passes (63.6 percent), threw for 9,186 yards, 50 touchdowns (4.0 touchdown percentage), 32 interceptions (2.6 interception percentage), an 88.7 passer rating and had a starting record of 24-19.
Mariota threw one less pass but made 11 more completions for 329 more yards. Taylor had the touchdown advantage by one and most notably, the interception advantage. That is important to note, as it would be unfair not to for Taylor.
However, to be fair to Mariota, that percentage is much higher due to him having an outlier and throwing 15 picks in 2017. His combined interception percentage in 2016 and 2018 was 2.17. Still not great, but is right around league-average.
What about the running game? That is something that is often touted in Taylor’s favor. When compared side-by-side, Taylor does not have much of an advantage in running the football other than he simply did it more as a starter.
Taylor carried the ball 283 times for 1,575 yards, 14 touchdowns and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. Mariota carried the ball 184 times for 1,018 yards, nine touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Taylor got a rushing touchdown for every 20.2 carries, Mariota got a touchdown every 20.4 carries.
What about speed? The two are virtually identical, at least if we look at their 40-yard dash times. Taylor ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at his Combine while Mariota ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash.
But then comes the argument about Taylor not having any weapons and bad coaching. Sure, he had bad coaching and often played for a defensive-minded head coach, but to say that he didn’t have any weapons is egregious.
Sure, those are not elite targets in the world but every single one of those guys are talented and showcased their talent on other teams after leaving the Bills. You could make the argument about offensive scheming all you want, but at some point, some of the blame has to go on the quarterback.
What were Mariota’s best targets during his three-year stretch? Rishard Matthews, Delanie Walker, Tajae Sharp, Kendall Wright, Eric Decker, DeMarco Murray, Corey Davis and Dion Lewis. Yes, that is a longer list, but that is because guys would often rise in certain years and then fall in the next year.
Outside of Delanie Walker and Corey Davis are any of those targets significantly better than what Taylor had in Buffalo? Not really. Did Mariota have more talent around him? Slightly.
Heck, entering 2016 the Bills ranked 26th in Pro Football Focus‘ receiving corps ranking and the Titans ranked 27th. Heading into 2017, Bleacher Report ranked Tennessee 22nd and Buffalo 21st. They were very similar.
The offensive lines are similar as well. In our three-year window for each quarterback, Taylor’s offensive line ranked ninth, 11th and seventh at the end of the season on PFF’s yearly rankings. Tennessee ranked first, fifth and ninth. Mariota did have an advantage, but it is not like Taylor played behind a bad line.
And it is not like Mariota had a coaching advantage either. Mike Mularkey had a 16-32 head coaching record before joining the Titans and got fired after the Titans made the playoffs. He had one year of Mike Vrabel in this window, who was a rookie head coach and is absolutely defensive-minded.
Whether or not it is a bad thing to be compared to Marcus Mariota is completely subjective. What is objective is that the numbers for both Taylor and Mariota are far too similar to ignore and are important for the LA Chargers.
So what will the LA Chargers be getting out of Tyrod Taylor in 2020? Expect Marcus Mariota with 4-6 fewer interceptions.