The Falcons sit one game under .500 with wins over the Seahawks and Browns while losing to the Buccaneers, Saints, and Rams by one score. It’s a stark difference between where Atlanta was a year ago, getting blown out in losses. The offense looks completely different, with one of the best run games in football, ranking near the top in every rushing metric. The defense has had its moments, coming up with timely turnovers. But Marcus Mariota has been pedestrian as a passer and is holding this team back.
Now, this isn’t an article to call for Desmond Ridder because I’m not quite sure if the rookie could give Atlanta’s offense much more than the veteran currently. However, it is to shed light on the less-than-ideal passing numbers of Mariota. Mobility is the best asset in his arsenal and undoubtedly keeps the Falcons’ offense moving in some situations, but to be ranked second-to-last in terms of accuracy is abysmal.
Lowest 'off-target' rates through five weeks:
6% – Geno Smith
7% – Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Matt Ryan
8% – Kirk Cousins
9% – Patrick Mahomes, Daniel Jones, Joe Burrow
23% – Justin Fields
20% – Marcus Mariota
16% – Jameis Winston
15% – Jimmy Garoppolo
— Jacob Gibbs (@jagibbs_23) October 12, 2022
That should be a crime; two of the biggest-bodied receivers in the league, and Mariota is still missing them. The former No. 2 overall pick has a career-low 57.7% completion percentage, career-low quarterback rating, and career-high interception percentage. He’s been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, ranking near the bottom of every major passing statistic. He ranks 30th in completion percentage, 24th in passing yards, 26th in passing touchdowns, tied for the ninth-most interceptions, and 27th in quarterback rating.
He’s turning the ball over at a rate that isn’t conducive to winning football games, with four interceptions and three fumbles lost. However, he’s fumbled the ball seven times; the team has just been lucky enough to recover four of them. That is an issue. If it weren’t for his ability to extend plays with his feet, those figures would be even worse. Calls from the Falcons fan base for Ridder have become more and more prevalent as the season continues. Mariota is actually coming off one of his better performances against the Buccaneers, where he threw for 147 yards and a score while adding another 61 yards on the ground.
He’s undoubtedly not the long-term answer at quarterback for the Falcons, but nobody should be surprised. We, including the team, knew Marcus Mariota was a bridge to whichever signal caller the Falcons drafted. However, he’s definitely underperforming thus far; I certainly didn’t expect him to be this bad.
It’s becoming increasingly clear he’s a scrappy player that can win some matchups if everything goes well in the other phases of the game. As I write this, I think I’m convincing myself it might be time to throw the rookie out there when Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson return from injury because I definitely don’t believe Ridder would have lost the games that the Falcons have won.
Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire