After the departure of Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons acted quickly and brought in former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota. The Falcons also selected Desmond Ridder, a quarterback out of Cincinnati, with their third-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
After the first day of training camp, Mariota was named the starter with Ridder being his backup.
Throughout the first four weeks of this season, quarterback Marcus Mariota hasn’t been anything special and has yet to have a “WOW” performance. Despite the surprising 2-2 start to the season for the Falcons, questions are being raised on whether or not Mariota is the guy, and if it is time to start Ridder.
To start the season, Mariota has been at most an average quarterback. Through the air Mariota has thrown for 779 yards which ranks 26th overall, three touchdowns which is tied for 27th overall, four interceptions which is tied for 21st overall, and a total QBR of 49.6 which is ranked 15th overall.
As you can see, Mariota ranks relatively low in each stat.
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Mariota has also made very big mistakes in clutch time throughout the first few weeks. In Week 1, Mariota fumbled at the goal line which allowed the Saints to drive down the field and win the game. In Week 2, Mariota threw a game sealing pick in the endzone. In Week 3, Mariota fumbled late in the 4th, the Falcons ending up winning the game but they would’ve been able to put the game away a lot earlier if it wasn’t for the fumble.
Mariota is coming off his worst performance of the season when he completed just seven of 19 passes against the Browns for 139 yards and a paltry 41.4 rating.
Ridder had a very impressive preseason. Ridder, in his three preseason games played, threw for 431 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions for a QBR of 87.7.
Ridder looked NFL ready. He showed the ability to step up in the pocket and deliver strikes down field while also showcasing his improvising and mobility skills.
Throughout his four years at Cincinnati, Ridder put up very impressive numbers. Ridder threw for 10,239 yards with 87 touchdowns and 28 interceptions for a QBR of 145.8. He also led the Bearcats to three seasons where they were ranked in the AP top 25 teams, including a trip to the College Football Playoff.
If the Falcons want to see what Desmond Ridder has to offer, the path is very simple. If Mariota stays healthy and the Falcons continue to impress and win games, the Falcons will know whether or not they have a chance to be in the hunt for a wildcard spot. If they fall out of the playoff race entirely, it will be the perfect time to bench Mariota for Ridder.
This Falcons team is currently in the middle of their rebuild, and they have yet to find the franchise quarterback. Desmond Ridder could be the answer at the quarterback position, but we have yet to see what he can do during a real NFL regular season game. If Mariota continues to play the way he is currently playing, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ridder a lot sooner than we may have expected.
In my opinion, the Falcons shouldn’t let their starting quarterback stop them from finding their franchise quarterback. Marcus Mariota is clearly not the long-term answer at the quarterback position, and it will be very interesting to see how head coach Arthur Smith and General Manager Terry Fontenot handle this situation going forward.
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