Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota continues to move his way up the QB Index on NFL.com. He’s up five spots to No. 17 this week according to the list compiled by writer Marc Sessler.
In an alternate universe, Mariota — an overt stopgap — has ceded the job to rookie Desmond Ridder. In our universe, the veteran has played well enough to hang around, build rapport with rookie wideout Drake London and finally coax a juicy line out of physical specimen Kyle Pitts (5/87). Mariota hasn’t been shy passing downfield, ranking third in the league in air yards per attempt (10.1). If Arthur Smith can turn 31-year-old Cordarrelle Patterson into the NFL’s third-leading rusher, he’s creative enough to keep this going with his back-from-the-wilderness signal-caller. It’s on Mariota, though, to wipe away his string of killer, late-game turnovers. — Marc Sessler, NFL.com
Sessler wasn’t the only concerned with Mariota’s turnovers. ESPN released its Power Rankings on Tuesday, and Falcons beat writer Michael Rothstein admitted the turnovers could be what holds Mariota back from solidifying a long-term starting spot for the Falcons.
Marcus Mariota has been fine. He has completed 63.3% of his passes — that would be the second-best in a season of his career — with a QBR of 55.9. He is throwing for a career-best 8.1 yards per attempt, which has been aided by head coach Arthur Smith’s playcalling. The concern? Some of his decisions and errors at critical times, including a red zone fumble and a bad center/quarterback exchange in the second half against the Saints in Week 1, leading to a loss, and a quarterback/running back exchange Sunday that was absolved somewhat by the win. But those mistakes have clouded an otherwise pretty good return to starting for Mariota and need to be remedied if he’s going to keep the job long term. — Michael Rothstein, ESPN
For Falcons fans with a curious glance further north, Mariota is ranked five-spots ahead of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan has suffered an inordinate amount of fumbles (7) behind a surprisingly leaky offensive line…. sound familiar?
Mariota has bracketed competent quarterback play with disastrous turnovers. Obviously every turnover by the quarterback isn’t entirely the quarterback’s fault. With games coming up against Cleveland, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and Cincinnati… games in which the Falcons are likely to be underdogs in each… Mariota will have to take care of the ball better than he has the first three games of the season.