The Oregon Ducks got great news when Marcus Mariota announced that he would be returning to school in 2014 for his redshirt junior season. Many speculated that the talented signal caller would make the jump to the NFL after this season along with other talented redshirt sophomore quarterbacks like Brett Hundley of the UCLA Bruins and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies. While many will criticize Mariota’s choice to return to school for another year instead of entering the professional ranks, Mariota made the right choice coming back to Oregon for another year.
There is no denying the dynamic playmaking ability of Mariota. He ranks No. 9 in the country in total offense this season as he compiled 3,994 total yards this season, averaging 332.8 yards per game and 9.06 yards per play while scoring 39 total touchdowns. He showed off some fantastic decision making this season as well, throwing zero interceptions through the first 10 games of the season before throwing four picks in the last two games of the year. Mariota developed greatly as a passer this season as he made more plays from the pocket in 2013 than he did in 2012 and picked his spots to tuck and run during his sophomore campaign.
But there are areas that Mariota still needs to improve. While he led the Pac-12 in passer rating this season (thanks in large part to his 30:4 TD:INT ratio), he ranked just fifth in the conference in completion percentage. He finished the year completing 63.1 percent of his passes, but finished six games with less than 60 percent completion percentage this season, including an 11-for-25 performance (44 percent) against the Cal Bears in a rainy Autzen Stadium this season. When he was on, Mariota threw as pretty a pass as anyone in the nation but he didn’t consistently deliver that accurate pass throughout the season.
To be successful in the NFL, Mariota will need to find that consistency in his delivery. Windows become so much tighter at the next level and that is the one major weakness in Mariota’s game right now is inconsistent accuracy. Having another year to develop at Oregon will only help him in that regard in addition to helping him come back healthy after getting banged up down the stretch in 2013. His decision to come back for one more year at Oregon will only help him become a better pro when he eventually joins the NFL.