The Falcons made sweeping changes this offseason when they traded Matt Ryan to the Colts. Atlanta’s quarterback situation is shaky at best following the trade, after signing Marcus Mariota and drafting Desmond Ridder in the third round.
The Falcons will likely head into the season with Mariota as the starter, given his experience advantage over Ridder, but the offense that Arthur Smith builds will complement the skillsets of both candidates.
[Matt] Ryan is the more cerebral, experienced, and accurate quarterback. But one characteristic the other two have that makes them superior is their mobility. Ryan has long been knocked for his inability to scramble, despite being an excellent pocket passer. It’s one skill that Arthur Smith should be able to leverage, regardless of which player starts this season.
In a radio interview with Andy Bunker on 92.9 The Game, Smith spoke on the subject, stating the offense will look a bit different with the mobility of the quarterbacks on the team. The Falcons’ offense will look more similar to those in Tennessee under Smith — zone rushing attack with play action rollouts built off the run. With Mariota and Ridder in Atlanta, the Falcons will continue to stress the focus of getting their passers out of the pocket.
It will also give Smith the ability in short-yardage situations to use the quarterback as an additional runner, something he did sparingly last season with the far-less-mobile Ryan. It’ll be interesting to see what Smith can accomplish with Mariota and Ridder.
The Falcons were at the bottom of the league in designed rollouts last season, but Falcons fans can expect them to be near the top in 2023. It’ll look like a much different offense, and it’s up to Smith to help cover up the deficiencies of Mariota and Ridder through play design and calling.
The Falcons obviously took a step back, going from Ryan to Mariota and Ridder. He’s a savvy veteran that covered up many of the team’s deficiencies for years, even if he isn’t the most mobile quarterback. However, that hasn’t stopped the coaching staff from setting expectations high, even if they are overzealous.
“There are no limitations on the quarterbacks and what we are going to ask them to do,” Dave Ragone said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re going to try to grow with them and evolve with what we think makes the most sense. We’ll get the feedback from them and more importantly, when you watch the film, seeing where they are most comfortable. Obviously, that’s what we’ll do.”
The Falcons might want to limit what their quarterbacks do because they aren’t capable of nearly the amount Ryan is. Mariota is a backup-caliber signal caller who wouldn’t start on the vast majority of NFL teams. Ridder is only a rookie, which comes with obvious shortcomings, namely a lack of experience.
It’s just another case where the Falcons’ organization displays zero self-awareness.
Photographer: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire