Unlike other organizations, the Atlanta Falcons were fortunate to be stable at the quarterback position. Former Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gave Atlanta consistency and leadership that proved to be successful. Maintaining quarterback stability is important in the league because other positions on the field are just as valuable. Every team is looking for their diamond in the rough. Ever since the Matt Ryan trade, the Atlanta Falcons plans at quarterback have varied. The pursuit of Deshaun Watson halted the plans for the Falcons and their salary cap situation. Arthur Smith hopes to have stability at the quarterback position entering the 2022 season.
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Atlanta Falcons Plans at Quarterback for 2022
Marcus Mariota Redemption Season
When drafted out of Oregon, Marcus Mariota arrived at the pros with lofty expectations. Mariota was known for his quick passing game and running ability through a high-tempo offense. The first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft was a toss-up between Jameis Winston and Mariota. The Buccaneers saw Winston as more pro-ready, while Mariota was more of a prospect. The Tennessee Titans took Mariota with the hope to elevate the franchise to new heights again.
Mariota struggled throughout his five seasons with the Titans. However, Mariota had limited resources around him to be successful. Coaching was also a problem as Mike Mularkey and Matt Lafleur couldn’t utilize the skills of Mariota. Similar to Robert Griffin III, Mariota’s main strength wasn’t used. Mariota loves to run and get outside the pocket and stretch the play. Mariota’s wide receivers that were consistent through his tenure were Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews. In order for sustained success, a quarterback must be able to have help around him. While Mariota didn’t improve with the Titans, the Titans didn’t improve within the organization to find skill positions suited for Mariota.
Apart from the Titans seasons, Mariota hopes to finally realize his potential with the Falcons. Arthur Smith hopes Mariota’s mobility will bring a spark to the offense. In addition to mobility, the run game for the 2022 season must improve to capitalize on Mariota’s strengths.
Desmond Ridder’s Potential to Breakout
While Mariota wants to prove he can still play, he’ll have to compete with rookie Desmond Ridder from Cincinnati. The selection of Desmond Ridder was controversial within the Falcons fandom. The 2023 NFL Draft features standouts C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. However, NFL also means “Not For Long”. Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot decided the roster can find wins for now and in the future. Ridder has garnered comparisons to Mariota for mobility and elusiveness outside the pocket. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Ridder ran a 4.49 while Mariota ran a 4.52 in 2015.
At Cincinnati, Ridder showed flashes in the short to the intermediate passing game. Ridder’s passing fits the scheme of Arthur Smith in which the quick passing game is key to success. Ridder’s senior year at Cincinnati was his best season throwing 30 TDs and only 8 INTs. For his upcoming rookie season, Ridder will be mentored by Mariota and will be introduced to the nuances of the quarterback position. In terms of starting, Ridder will have to show strides, especially in OTA’s and preseason to consider leading the Falcons into the future.
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