Falcons’ Arthur Smith Slimes Marcus Mariota As QB Is Apparently Away For Baby’s Birth

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Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith earlier this week painted quite an unattractive picture of quarterback Marcus Mariota. The picture is of a player not good enough to start for a bad team, one who curiously found an injury when he was benched, and one who left the team without giving a reason.

Smith basically blistered Mariota.


The Atlanta Falcons coach said he told Mariota of the decision to bench him in favor of Desmond Ridder to get the team “over the hump” with the hope of finding a productive quarterback “not only short term but long term as well.”

Arthur Smith and Marcus Mariota have beef.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and quarterback Marcus Mariota. (Getty Images)

Arthur Smith, Marcus Mariota Issues

Smith then said Mariota decided to leave the team to have a knee evaluated. The coach described the knee injury as “nothing that’s been an issue this season” and added he didn’t know if Mariota would return.

“I can’t answer that right now,” Smith said of Mariota’s return.

So Smith suggested Mariota was suddenly worried about an otherwise manageable injury and also quit on his team after being benched without saying if he’d be back.

But here’s two problems:

Falcons may have jumped to conclusions

Mariota apparently had a new baby’s birth as his priority during the bye week. That seems to be a good reason to be away during the bye week.

And on Wednesday Smith confirmed Mariota is set for knee surgery next week and will go on injured reserve.

And whatever the Falcons want to do with their starting QB situation is fair.

But to suggest Mariota quit on the team or had an injury that suddenly appeared when he was benched is not right. The injury is serious enough to require surgery.

And Mariota didn’t just leave the team because he was angry. He may have been angry, no doubt. But he also was about to become a new dad.

The Falcons obviously presented only part of the story without knowing everything.

And no one was previously able to contact Mariota to get his side.

So this much is clear:

This relationship is probably broken unless Smith apologizes to Mariota for throwing him under the proverbial bus and painting him as a quitter.

Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder. (Getty Images)

Falcons Moving Away From Mariota

The situation is probably broken anyway.

The Falcons have obviously decided Mariota isn’t the guy to, as Smith puts it, help the team “get over that hump.”

Mariota, meanwhile, apparently didn’t communicate the full scope of why he was stepping away. And now he has to get comfortable being the backup, which he was with the Raiders the last couple of years. Mariota also has to get comfortable with the way he has been portrayed.

Those are all significant obstacles to overcome.

The Falcons can save $12 million in cap space if they release Mariota in the offseason. That’s direction this situation is headed.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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