The starting quarterbacks for both the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans have both been ruled out today in advance of Sunday's regular season finale between the two teams. The Colts ruled Andrew Luck out, while the Titans ruled Marcus Mariota out.
Titans interim head coach Mike Mularkey announced today that Mariota, who suffered a knee injury two weeks ago in the loss to the Patriots, will not play on Sunday, meaning that his rookie season is over. Earlier this week, Tennessee left the door open to a possible return for Mariota, but they decided against it. They said they wouldn't put him out there unless he was 100%, and with him not practicing on Wednesday they decided that it's best to sit him. Mularkey said that "it's not worth the risk."
That means that Zach Mettenberger will start on Sunday against the Colts, while former Colts practice squad quarterback Alex Tanney will be the backup for Tennessee. Mettenberger has played in 13 games in his two-year NFL career so far with the Titans, starting nine of them (the Titans are 0-9 in those starts). He has completed 203 of 332 passes (61.1%) for 2,309 yards (6.96 yards per attempt) and 12 touchdowns with 13 interceptions for a 77.7 passer rating. The matchup will feature Mettenberger against either Stephen Morris, Josh Freeman, or Ryan Lindley at quarterback for the Colts, with Morris perhaps being the most likely option.
The Titans, who would secure the top overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft with a loss, are now set up well to do just that, but that would mean the Colts winning a game - something they've struggled to do recently. With Mariota out, however, the Titans' chances of winning will decrease significantly.
It was an impressive rookie season for the Titans' first round draft pick, as Marcus Mariota started 12 games and completed 230 of 370 passes (62.2%) for 2,818 yards (7.62 yards per attempt) and 19 touchdowns along with 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 91.5. He also rushed for 252 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 7.4 yards per carry and also caught a touchdown pass of 41 yards. He clearly showed that he can be the Titans' quarterback of the future, which is something they've been searching for recently. They may still end up with the top pick in the draft, but they've got a very promising young player at the most important position. Now, the task is about building the talent level up around him.