The Falcons are set to host the Bears this Sunday after being embarrassed on national television by the Panthers led by interim Steve Wilks and backup quarterback P.J. Walker. Chicago is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Lions in Justin Fields‘ return to his home state. The former Buckeye and Dawg grew up outside of Atlanta and initially attended Georgia before transferring to Ohio State. Much of the matchup will be centered around the Falcons passing on the homegrown talent, but another significant storyline involves Atlanta’s current quarterback situation.
Mariota’s latest performance doesn’t look that bad on paper — 19-of-31 passing for 186 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. However, it isn’t indicative of how poorly the veteran actually played. Mariota displayed rookie-caliber decision-making, consistently putting the ball in harm’s way. It was an all around dejecting effort. Following the loss, Arthur Smith had to answer the obvious questions regarding the status of signal caller.
Michael Rothstein pressed Smith, “Do you anticipate Marcus being the starter?”
“You can make it about the quarterback, but what about the team?” Smith shot back.
To Smith’s point, the Falcons were outmatched in every facet of the game. The offensive and defensive lines were dominated. The special teams were horrendous. The tackling was atrocious, and the quarterback play was reminiscent of a high school game. But the questions about Mariota’s status as the starter are fair. The “veteran” was just throwing up the ball and praying… that’s unacceptable.
But just because fans see it one way doesn’t mean that’s the entire picture. Desmond Ridder could look terrible in practice; he could very well be overwhelmed with the extensiveness of offenses and defenses in the NFL. And from his comments on Monday, the Falcons will not experience a quarterback change unless the team is mathematically eliminated from postseason contention or Mariota suffers an injury, even if the fan base sharpens their pitchforks.
Falcons coach Arthur Smith said "There's no situation" when asked about "the quarterback situation" and, "We're right in the middle of a playoff race."
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) November 14, 2022
Arthur Smith is making it very clear — the Falcons see Mariota as the best bet to win football games right now. Regardless of whether Ridder is the future or not, the Falcons are playing to win games today, not tomorrow. It seems that unless the Falcons are eliminated from the playoff race, Ridder will remain on the bench.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire