Can Marcus Mariota have a Ryan Tannehill-like resurrection with Falcons?

482200104006 TEN at NEP

The Falcons are entering unknown territory in 2022 without long-time signal caller Matt Ryan at the helm. The organization quickly took its first stab at the team’s future franchise quarterback in third-round selection Desmond Ridder, but all signs point to Marcus Mariota being the starter. 

Mariota, who was drafted No. 2 overall after winning the Heisman Trophy, has had a rollercoaster of a career. The former Oregon Duck entered the league in 2015 and took the Titans to the divisional round of the playoffs in his third season. However, fast forward three years, and Mariota appeared in only one game for the Raiders during the 2020 season. Last year, he was strictly used as a change-of-pace quarterback and only stepped on the field to throw off opposing defenses.

Still, Mariota is set to take the reigns in Atlanta, and given how familiar he is with Arthur Smith’s offense, it could work out better than a lot of people expect. Working with Smith in Tennessee, Mariota was eventually replaced as the team’s starter by Ryan Tannehill during his last season with the Titans. But could Mariota potentially have a similar career trajectory as his former teammate?

Chances are probably not. However, resurrecting his career in Atlanta is certainly possible. His ability to create plays off-script with his legs is going to be a big factor in the Falcons’ offense this year. Mariota is 29-32 over 61 career starts with an 89.5 passer rating, and his most recent start came in 2020, where he completed 17 of 28 passes (60.7% completion) for 226 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. So, Falcons fans shouldn’t expect him to come in and be something that he’s not. Mariota can still function as a starter in this league, and he’ll get his chance in Atlanta, but winning more than six games seems unlikely.

Tannehill’s career of going from a below-average starter in Miami to an above-average one in Tennessee is a hopeful comparison to Mariota. However, the team didn’t draft Desmond Ridder to sit on the bench. Mariota was brought in to be the bridge until the rookie is ready to play. He’s a veteran who does all the little things right and will provide invaluable leadership to Ridder. Banking on him to completely turn his career around is foolish. Mariota is a decent quarterback with some concerning flaws. That’s who he is at this point in his career.

Photographer: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

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