FOXBORO, Mass. — From rushing threats like Deshaun Watson, Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky to elusive scramblers like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, the New England Patriots have faced mobile quarterbacks on a seemingly weekly basis this season.
The one they’ll see this Sunday, though, has a unique set of skills, according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
That would be Tennessee Titans signal-caller Marcus Mariota, whom Belichick called the fastest and most athletic QB his team has faced this season.
“He’s fast,” Belichick said in his Friday morning news conference. “He’s fast. He outruns a lot of people. He’s quick. He’s athletic. He’s fast and athletic. Trubisky is a big, strong kid. Watson, Bortles — Mariota’s, I’d say, faster and more athletic than they are.”
Mariota ranks fourth among NFL QBs with 41 rushing attempts this season and sixth in rushing yards with 217, despite sitting out one game and parts of two others with an injury.
The fourth-year pro frequently used his legs Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, carrying the ball 10 times for 32 yards and scoring the game-sealing touchdown in a 28-14 Titans victory.
“His toughness is really unmatched,” Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. “He does a really good job of just playing through injuries and playing through different situations he’s put in. He’s a good player. He’s an up-and-coming quarterback. … He’s really good at running the ball and throwing. You can see the (Titans) coaches are doing a good job influencing him.”
Mariota averaged 9.3 yards per carry (four rushes, 37 yards) when the Titans and Patriots met in the divisional round last season, but he also was sacked eight times as the Pats rolled to a 35-14 victory.
New England struggled to contain Trubisky three weeks ago, allowing him to scramble eight times for 61 yards and a touchdown in a 38-31 Patriots victory.
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