4 Things the Falcons learned from Mariota’s performance in week one
By Nick Halden
1. Marcus Mariota must learn to slide more often
There is balance in today’s league that is ultra-focused on protecting the quarterbacks and teams that don’t want to see their franchise leader put themselves in harm’s way. Putting himself in harm’s way to make plays with his legs is part of Mariota’s game. Marcus finished the game as Atlanta’s second-leading rusher with 72-rushing yards and showed a willingness to fight for extra yards.
However, there is a fine line between toughness and poor decision making and Mariota showed that in a run inside the red zone. Mariota took the snap and scrambled deep inside Saints territory with a first down and setting Atlanta up with a first and goal.
Three Saints closed the gap on Mariota who instead of sliding decided to take on all three Saints defenders and ended up fumbling the football. This play was the beginning of the end for Mariota and the Falcons against the Saints. If Mariota simply gives himself up the Falcons at least have three points and very likely would have scored the game-winning touchdown. Mariota’s toughness is part of his game and what will give the Atlanta offense a chance, however, he has to be smart and pick his spots. Giving himself up and sliding is protecting the team and his choice not to do so on Sunday cost Atlanta a great chance to lock up a week one win.