Marcus Mariota Atlanta Falcons - Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons News

Marcus Mariota the NFL’s Worst Starting QB?

Marcus Mariota is the Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback heading into the 2022 season. He replaces long-time starter Matt Ryan after signing a two-year $18.75 million contract with the Falcons.

Mariota has looked sharp in two preseason games with the Falcons, going eight for 12 passing for 168 yards and a touchdowns, and he’s added a rushing touchdown to boot.

He was last a fulltime starter in the NFL in 2019, and according to Bleacher Reports’ (B/R) Ian Wharton, his resume makes him the worst starting quarterback in the NFL… ranking 32 on B/R’s quarterback power rankings heading in to the season.

“Mariota has never reached the heights he did in 2016 and has gotten worse each year since,” wrote Wharton. “His athleticism may help behind a disastrous offensive line, but there’s not much reason for optimism.”

“The league’s standards have changed since Mariota was drafted No. 2 in 2015, and he’s in a situation wherein he needs to produce a career-best season to avoid being benched for rookie Desmond Ridder.”

OK, so we may not be expecting Mariota to reach the heights of a No. 2 overall pick in his prime, but the worst starting quarterback in the NFL?

His career quarterback rating is 89.5, good enough for 21st in the NFL last year, ironically just behind the 89.6 posted by Ryan Tannehill, the man who replaced him in Tennessee.

The offensive line was a disaster in 2020, but Jalen Mayfield, Pro Football Focus’ worst graded pass blocker in the NFL, has been relegated to a backup role. Elijah Wilkinson has looked more than serviceable in his place at left guard.

Starting right tackle Kaleb McGary has been a bust after being selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but he is a free agent after this season. So far in the preseason, he looks like a man looking to get paid on the open market next year.

If you have one game to win would you take Geno Smith, Zach Wilson, or Justin Fields over Mariota right now?

This Atlanta Falcons team is full of players with a lot to prove heading into the 2022 season.

It looks like Mariota has the most to prove of them all.

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Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.