Marcus Mariota embraces Eagles backup role after quitting on Falcons

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Marcus Mariota‘s time in Atlanta as the Falcons quarterback is easily forgettable.

During his 13 starts, the veteran threw for 2,219 yards and 15 touchdowns against just nine interceptions on 61.3% passing. Tumultuous might be an understatement for the volatile play Mariota brought on a weekly basis. Ultimately, he fell out of favor with the coaching staff and was benched for the rookie Desmond Ridder, which came much too late if you ask me.

The Marcus Mariota saga in Atlanta was one that flew under the national media’s radar. It’s still crazy to me how little traction his quitting has received around the league’s media, especially one as ferocious as Philadelphia, where he will play in 2023 behind Jalen Hurts.

Mariota signed with the Eagles to be Hurts’ backup and is fully embracing the role, a stark difference from what the Falcons received.

“To help a younger guy out” is jarring. Desmond Ridder isn’t Jalen Hurts, but he certainly could’ve benefited from having a veteran in the room during the last four games of the season.

Marcus Mariota signed a two-year deal that was really one year to be the stopgap option while the Falcons searched for their franchise quarterback. He was never going to be the long-term solution, but that didn’t stop him from quitting on the team. I have talked about the details extensively; here’s an excerpt if you’re not familiar:

After learning about his demotion, the veteran seemingly stepped away from the Falcons; a phantom injury ended his season despite never appearing on any injury report. From where I sit, it looks like Marcus Mariota quit, taking his ball and going home.

According to reports, the team informed him of the decision on a Thursday morning; by Friday, they learned Mariota planned to step away. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith even went as far as to say the injury wasn’t an issue all season and that it was his own prerogative.

When Marcus Mariota signed with the Falcons, he was heralded for his professionalism and sterling reputation, highly touted for his attitude and leadership, but he acted very uncharacteristically and left Desmond Ridder high and dry. There’s surely more to the story, but for what’s available to the public, it sheds a terrible light on Mariota.

It doesn’t make sense on any level. Marcus Mariota was heralded for his professionalism and leadership qualities but didn’t want to help out Ridder? There’s clearly more to the story than the public has received. The national outlets are also seemingly letting it slide too. It’s not a Lamar Jackson or Aaron Rodgers story, but it’s worth digging into.

Jalen Hurts missed sometime last season due to a shoulder injury, so it’s not unfathomable for Mariota to get some playing time in Philadelphia. Hopefully, it’s more productive than what he provided in Atlanta, or those Eagles fans will make him quit again.

Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

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