Mariota will enter the pre-season as Atlanta Falcons starter

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith made it clear in recent comments that headed into the season Marcus Mariota would be considered the starting quarterback. Smith’s comments leave the door open for Desmond Ridder, however, with the head coach making it clear Mariota was starting as he was considered their current best option to win games now.

Mariota will begin the pre-season as Atlanta’s starter but a great pre-season from Ridder should be enough to change that. Mariota is the proven reliable option that will give the Falcons stability and a consistent level of play.

While he isn’t a great talent elevator Mariota was reliable during his time with the Titans and put together an impressive highlight reel.  For Ridder to win the job he shouldn’t have to beat Mariota during the pre-season. Simply match his production and show he can lead.

If the competition is anywhere close Ridder should be named the starter considering Atlanta’s short time to evaluate the position. Next year’s quarterback class appears to be much deeper and the Falcons cannot afford to pass on a quarterback next off-season if Ridder isn’t the answer.

Arthur Smith naming Mariota the current starter isn’t news it is simply what any head coach should say at this point of the off-season in Atlanta’s situation. Mariota is the established veteran who was brought in ahead of third-round pick Desmond Ridder. He deserves the respect of being considered the team’s starting quarterback heading into the season.

Naming a third-round pick in Ridder the starter before he has taken a pre-season snap isn’t an option for a team who isn’t looking to tank this season. While the wins will be few and far between Atlanta wants to play as competitively as possible and put the quarterback who gives them the best chance to win now on the field.

Don’t mistake Smith’s comments, this is still a quarterback competition one that Mariota has the inside track on. However, Ridder will be given a chance to win the job and start week one for Atlanta.

It is worth remembering here that Mariota and Arthur Smith worked together on the Titans, Smith’s comments speak to their history and the respect he has for the veteran. However, the door remains open for Ridder to prove he is ready and take the starting job setting up what should be an unusually interesting and fun pre-season for the Atlanta Falcons.