Many Atlanta Falcons fans and media (this one included) have been calling for Marcus Mariota to be benched for rookie Desmond Ridder after a rocky start to the season. This will change for many after Mariota put together a great game and a blueprint of what he can do for this team.
Let’s be clear here the Marcus Mariota that showed up for much of the first five weeks for the Atlanta Falcons simply wasn’t getting the job done. A game manager that turns the football over and consistently misses open throws isn’t going to work for a team that needs their quarterback simply not to get in the way of what they want to do offensively.
Mariota was the perfect example of that on Sunday against the 49ers going 13/14 for 129-yards and 2-touchdowns but most important zero turnovers. During the broadcast, it was discussed how that Mariota was envisioned as a point guard for this Atlanta offense a player simply distributes and doesn’t get in the way of what Arthur Smith is trying to do which is dominate the trenches and control the clock with the running game.
This version of Mariota is lethal and will keep Desmond Ridder on the bench for much longer than expected if he continues to show up.
Mariota added in a rushing touchdown and 50-rushing yards perfectly executing twice on an option play that had even the camera following the wrong player. Mariota deserves blame for his decision-making and poor throws throughout the first five weeks of the season.
At the same time, however, he deserves immense credit for consistently hitting his open receivers in this game and perfectly picking his spots to run the ball including a clutch 3rd down conversion that helped flip the game in Atlanta’s favor.
If Mariota can play at this level over the next four weeks of the season not only will Atlanta have a chance to continue to shock teams but they just might have a chance at contending in a division that is suddenly wide open.