Atlanta Falcons HC Arthur Smith: Marcus Mariota To Start — For Now

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With the 2022 Draft in the rearview mirror and preseason football still three months away, many NFL writers and fans dig deep for drama and controversy in late spring to give themselves a little NFL fix.

The hype this week relates to a supposed quarterback controversy brewing in Atlanta. OK, that may overstate things a bit, but OutKick’s own Sam Amico admitted in confidence that he recently wondered about the Atlanta QB situation, and here we are.

Atlanta hasn’t had any quarterback uncertainty since they drafted Matt Ryan third overall back in 2008. Ryan gave fourteen solid years to the team, but now that he has moved on to Indianapolis, the Falcons must move on as well.

And move on, they have. They signed a two-year, $18.75 million deal with Marcus Mariota back in March, and in April, they drafted Desmond Ridder, the University of Cincinnati legend who led his team to the College Football Playoff last year, in the third round.

So the Falcons have options. But according to head coach Arthur Smith, Mariota currently  has the edge.

“The best player is going to play but Marcus being the vet, that’s the way it’ll go starting out,” Smith said, per Sports Illustrated.

The veteran Mariota, still only 28 years old, joined the NFL in 2015 and has bounced from the Titans, to the Raiders, and now to the Falcons. Though he has mostly played backup the last couple seasons, his overall experience gives him the nod.

However, Ridder may also have the opportunity to earn the starting spot too.

“We’ve got a long way to go until September. I’m not going to tell you our long-term plan or short-term plan,” Smith said recently, “… It’ll play itself out.”

Though Smith’s statement is a bit cryptic, it does imply that Ridder could eventually overtake Mariota in the QB competition.

But as Coach says, we still have a long way until September. In the meantime, we’ll occupy our buddy Sam with petty NFL quarterback news while the rest of us enjoy this unseasonably warm May weather.

Written by Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil has a PhD in Shakespearean drama but now spends her days reading and writing about her first passion: sports. She loves God, her husband, and all things Michigan State.


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  1. I’m pulling for Mariota to succeed. He’s a class guy, and has battled through a lot of setbacks after some high expectations. He clearly has the talent, it’s just a question of whether he can put it all together and stay healthy for once.

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