NFL.com’s Marc Sessler attempts the impossible with his Week 1 QB Index trying to rank all-32 quarterbacks in the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons starter, Marcus Mariota, hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2019, so it stands to reason he’d be rather low in Sessler’s rankings.
Mariota comes in ranked 29th with an asterisk, because Jacoby Brissett of the Cleveland Browns is ranked 32nd. It’s a pretty safe bet that mid-season starter Deshaun Watson will be ranked higher than 29th.
Mitch Trubisky (Steelers) and Davis Mills (Texans) are the other two quarterbacks who come in behind Mariota, but Sessler leaves room in his analysis for upward mobility.
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Mariota is Atlanta’s starter, but it certainly appears coach Arthur Smith wants to see rookie Desmond Ridder at some stage. I thought Mariota boiled down to an intriguing watch in the preseason. I also trust Smith to dial up an ample amount of creativity to employ the veteran’s legs. It would serve as fertile Comeback Player of the Year soil if Atlanta offered more support around Mariota, who must also prove he can stay healthy. – Marc Sessler on NFL.com
Smith may want to see Desmond Ridder more this season, but we advise caution to anyone asking him about the development of the Falcons third-round pick.
Mariota is on essentially a one-year deal with the Falcons. He carries just a $2.5-million dead-cap hit next season against a salary-cap number of $14.5 million. But Mariota was considerably ahead of Ridder in the preseason and will get a chance to revive his career in Atlanta.
He was 8/12 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown in limited action in the preseason. He also added a touchdown rushing.
Mariota may never live up to the billing of being the No. 2 overall pick, which he was in 2015, but he’s still just 28-years old and will have an offense built around his mobility in Atlanta.
It’s understandable that Mariota is low on the list after having not been a starter, but he played well when he got his chance behind Derek Carr, who is ranked No. 12 on the list.
A ranking is meant to reflect performance, not potential, and I’d be hard pressed to take players like Trey Lance (49ers), Justin Fields (Bears), Geno Smith (Seahawks), and Joe Flacco (Jets) over Mariota if I had to win a game tomorrow.
The Falcons need to start winning more games after four-consecutive losing seasons. They’ll get their chance this week when they open up against an old nemesis in Jameis Winston (18 on the list) and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at 1 p.m.