Heading into the draft, the Jets were out of range for the top 2 quarterbacks available, Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston and Tennessee Titans Marcus Mariota. We needed a QB, but with both Tampa and Tennessee also needing a QB, the price to move up would have been extortionate, a price the Jets were unwilling to pay.
Had Mariota have dropped to the Jets, there is reason to believe that we would have selected him instead of Leonard Williams. When asked if he thought they had a shot at Marcus, Bowles quickly replied "Realistically, no." When asked if he would have selected Marcus had he have fallen, Bowles wouldn't be drawn on any hypothetical situation, simply replying that we (the writers) could handle that one.
Maybe the Jets would have bypassed Mariota for Williams, who was considered the top player available in the entire draft. Maybe they would have selected the former Oregon Duck to spearhead their QB revival for the next 5 years. So far the Jets have to be happy with the performance of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is leading the team on a play-off hunt, while on course to break a few Jets single season QB records.
This weekend the Titans head to New Jersey to take on the Jets, and Bowles is only too aware of the talent that the rookie QB in Tennessee possesses:
He's as good as advertised. When I went to work him out last year, he was a talent. He's very smart, we know he can run. Obviously, he can throw in the pocket like people said he couldn't, but he can throw in the pocket and he can do a lot of things. He's dangerous. It's going to be one of those ball games.
If you were here during the off-season, you will know that I was a huge Mariota supporter. I believed he possessed all the skills to make it as a pro QB. Despite having very little to work with in Tennessee, Mariota is putting up quite the performance so far. So much so that I would say that he is way ahead of schedule at this point in his career.
He's thrown 19 TD/s to 9 INT's. He's completing over 63% of his passes and he averages 8 yards every time he takes off, although his 87 yard TD run on Sunday against the Jaguars didn't hurt that. He's not perfect, he's still working on chemistry with his receivers and he's thrown a couple of bad interceptions. He's fumbled the ball 8 times this year and he's lost 5 of them. When you put him in 3rd and long, he can be rattled.
The Jets will need to keep Mariota in the pocket, as his speed could hurt us...but if we can do that, and keep him in 3rd and long situations, we can rattle him. It's going to be a great game of football. Tennessee are happy with their QB, and although I'm extremely happy with Fitzpatrick, I probably wouldn't turn down Marcus Mariota on the Jets for the next 10 years, if I was given the option.