NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota has some long, tough months ahead.
And some big things in store for him in Year 3, according to his teammates and head coach.
The Titans quarterback wasn't on the field when the team finished the season on Sunday. Instead, he watched the game in a suite above the field at Nissan Stadium.
While players cleaned out their lockers on Monday, Mariota's departure has been delayed. He continues to recover from surgery on the fractured right fibula he suffered on December 24 at Jacksonville.
So what's next for Mariota?
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said on Monday the quarterback's leg cannot bear any weight for the first eight weeks, the first stage of what he earlier said would be a 4-5 month recovery process. Mariota has been wearing a cast, and getting around on a knee walker/scooter. After two months, he'll be able to start the rehabilitation process.
His teammates said on Monday they have big expectations for Mariota in Year 3.
"I have like no worry in the world (about Marcus),'' tackle Taylor Lewan said. "I think Marcus is going to come back, he's going to be better next year, he's going to be a Pro Bowler next year, and he's going to be in the Super Bowl.
"I don't know what Marcus' weaknesses are that people talk about, but those will go away. Marcus has another year to establish who he is as a player, and to be the guy that he's been for us, another year to be more consistent. I think he's going to answer all the questions that people have for him."
Mariota completed 276-of-451 passes for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 95.6 passer rating in 2016. He added 60 rushing attempts for 349 yards and two touchdowns in 2016.
"Hopefully getting healthy this offseason and him coming back,'' running back DeMarco Murray said of Mariota. "Coming back and leading us the way he did this year, I think he'll be even better.
"Obviously he is still very young and raw. I think he is a great talent, someone who is athletic as hell. He'll be back and ready to go."
Among Mariota's accomplishments in 2016:
• Mariota's 95.6 passer rating ranks third in franchise history for a single season, behind only Warren Moon's 96.8 in 1990, when he was the Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year, and Steve McNair's 100.4 in 2003, when he was the NFL's Co-MVP.
• Mariota's 26 touchdown passes in 2016 rank fourth in franchise history behind only George Blanda's 36 touchdown passes in 1961, Moon's 33 in 1990 and Blanda's 27 in 1962.
• Mariota's 3,426 passing yards make up the seventh largest single-season total in franchise history and the most since Matt Hasselbeck's 3,571 passing yards in 2011.
• Mariota's eight consecutive games with multiple touchdown passes in 2016 set a new franchise record.
• Mariota already has more career games (three) with four passing touchdowns and no interceptions than any other quarterback in franchise history.
• Mariota has 33 career touchdown passes in the red zone without an interception.
• Mariota's 114.6 passer rating in the red zone from 2015–2016 leads the NFL.
• Mariota became the seventh player in NFL history with at least 6,000 passing yards and 600 rushing yards in his first two seasons, joining Jeff Garcia, Newton, Robert Griffin, Wilson, Andrew Luck and Blake Bortles.
• Mariota's 16 games with at least two touchdown passes in his first two NFL seasons are tied for third all-time in the
NFL, equaling Peyton Manning and Wilson and trailing only Marino (22) and Derek Carr (17).
Mularkey believes Mariota took a big step in Year 2.
"I thought he had a very good year, I mean a very good year,'' Mularkey said. "He did a lot of good things for us, especially in the red zone. You guys all know his red zone stats. I think that's why we were as successful in the red zone with him.
"I think taking a step back with some of the things we did offensively in regards to, like I said, making it user friendly, play calling, taking some of the things off his protection, I think that helped him immensely. I thought he played faster, made quicker decisions, got the ball out quicker, made some really good decisions to throw it away. I thought he got better with his ball security. That's something we'll always be working on, there's no question about that, because that had an effect on some of our losses, but he did a lot of good things for this football team."
TitansOnline.com looks back at Marcus Mariota's second NFL season in 2016. (AP Photos)