Every year at this time, a storyline emerges in the early days of training camp. This year, sparked by the fact that Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota has yet to throw an interception during practice.
It’s a meaningless stat, during the portion of the calendar where the only meaningful thing that happens are injuries. But we focus on it, because we need to focus on something.
On multiple occasions during Saturday’s practice, as noted in the tweets of Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com, Mariota almost threw that first interception of training camp on two or three different occasions, but the defensive backs (proving why they play defense) failed to make the catches.
Even if Mariota had thrown three picks today, or three every day, it’s impossible to read anything into any of it. Maybe the team’s defense really is bad. Maybe Mariota is playing it safe. Maybe the coaches are playing it safe with him, in the hopes that he’ll gradually build confidence.
Picks or no picks, there’s no way to draw any real conclusions. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw five all year in 2014; he already has thrown five in training camp. And it’s clear that, for Rodgers, the interceptions are part of the process of determining which receivers he can — and can’t — trust.
“That’s what this camp is all about,” Rodgers said recently, via PackersNews.com. “It’s about sorting those things out, seeing who is going to be sticking around for the season, and who’s going to be looking for a job. You have to show it in practice in order for me to feel comfortable making those throws in the game.”
It’s an excellent point from Rodgers, who is testing his receivers to see who can do it right and who can’t. The stat sticks to the quarterback, but the memory becomes glued to the man who ran the wrong route or who didn’t run it the right way or who didn’t display the ball skills necessary to come down with the throw.