The Falcons might be approaching a crossroads entering the bye week. Following Atlanta’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the top conversation surrounds Marcus Mariota and what the organization does at the quarterback position. Calls for Desmond Ridder from the national media and fan base alike have grown louder as the season progresses. Following Mariota’s poor performance on Sunday, Arthur Smith is leaving the door open to a potential change at the position.
The veteran finished with another lackluster state line — 167 yards, one touchdown, and one interception on 54.2% passing. Mariota missed more than a handful of pass catchers with overthrows, and his game-sealing interception is consistent with what he’s been all season. Despite the ineffectiveness of their quarterback, players on the Falcons aren’t budging. Many are voicing their opinions in support of Mariota.
There is a silver lining. Sometimes, losses like the one the Falcons experienced on Sunday will fracture a team. All you have to do is look north to the Jets’ situation with Zach Wilson, who is experiencing a power struggle at quarterback. It’s a testament to the culture Arthur Smith, Terry Fontenot, and the rest of the regime have instilled throughout the building.
And in Monday’s press conference, Arthur Smtih eluded to a change at quarterback but only confirmed a decision will come next week.
Arthur Smith: "We're still working through that" in terms of the quarterback situation.
Said they'll have a decision next week.
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) December 5, 2022
There really isn’t a reason to keep turning to Mariota with Desmond Ridder sitting on the bench. The veteran has been inaccurate all season, and the staff isn’t even asking him to do anything outside his comfort zone. The rookie might not provide an immediate improvement over Mariota, but the team has to see what they have in Ridder at some point. And there might not be a better time than right now as the Falcons head into a bye week. After all, the offense under Marcus Mariota is dead last in the league in the percentage of targets deemed catchable, per PFF.
Lowest percentage of targets deemed catchable this season (PFF)
30. Commanders (74%)
31. Bears (73.4%)
32. Falcons (71.5%)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 5, 2022
Fans are expecting the Falcons to make a change, but we won’t officially know until next week, according to Arthur Smith.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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