All signs point to Marcus Mariota as Falcons starter in 2022

482200104006 TEN at NEP

The Falcons were a part of one of the craziest offseasons in NFL history. The wide receiver market exploded, but the quarterback movement was unprecedented. Atlanta sent Matt Ryan to Indianapolis for a third-round pick as they jumped headfirst into a rebuild.

The Falcons quickly signed Marcus Mariota to seemingly be the team’s stopgap quarterback as the front office searches for the long-term answer at the position. Well, we didn’t have to wait long. Shortly after signing Mariota, Terry Fontenot potentially struck gold in the third round, landing Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder.

Despite being as pro-ready as any quarterback prospect in this year’s draft, the former Bearcat is a long shot at winning the starting job. Mariota has a history with Arthur Smith; it’s no coincidence why he was brought to Atlanta. The former Heisman Trophy winner spent the first stint of his career in Tennessee and even played under Smith when he was the Titans’ offensive coordinator.

Despite being benched for Ryan Tannehill, Mariota is still more familiar with Smith’s scheme than Ridder. Moreover, the Oregon product is a seasoned veteran that understands the way of the NFL world. He understands defensive concepts at a higher level and possesses better processing skills. That isn’t to say Ridder can’t be better than Mariota one day; it would be difficult for any rookie quarterback to beat out a veteran.

“We’ve added competition certainly,” Arthur Smith said. “Marcus being the veteran gives us a chance going forward. As with any position on this team, the best player is going to play, but obviously Marcus being the vet, that’s the way it’ll go starting out.”

Even though Mariota couldn’t keep the starting job in Tennessee, he’ll have every opportunity to be a starter again. Mariota threw for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions during his second season with the Titans. He’s certainly capable. However, health and consistency have been significant factors in Mariota’s struggles. We’ll see what he can do in 2022 with a decent array of offensive weapons and a familiar face calling plays.

Photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire



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