Atlanta Falcons: At what point did Arthur Smith bench Mariota in 2019?
There was a lot of optimism watching Marcus Mariota play sparingly during the Atlanta Falcons preseason. He looked like a different player after sitting on the bench for two years in Las Vegas, but that optimism quickly turned into pessimism as the regular season progressed.
No way around it, Marcus Mariota is not cutting it for the Falcons at the most important position in sports. Sure, there have been some factors going against him but his mistakes and ineffectiveness have cost the Falcons.
The good news for Falcons fans? Arthur Smith showed that he is not afraid to bench the former Oregon Duck dating back to their time together with the Tennessee Titans in 2019.
At what point did the current Atlanta Falcons head coach bench Marcus Mariota?
The Atlanta Falcons are struggling with their passing game despite having a strong running game. Much of the struggles lie on the shoulders of quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Mariota has been a quarterback who has shown promise but has had serious issues with consistency and I think we are all seeing that this year.
Go back to the 2019 season when the Tennessee Titans opened up the season with Mariota starting at quarterback. He had some good games and some bad games leading up to him being benched for Ryan Tannehill in week six. Here are his stats through each of those six weeks:
- Wk1 vs. Browns: 14/24, 58.3%, 248 yards, 3 TD, 0 INTs, 133.3 QBR, 0 fumble
- Wk2 vs. Colts: 19/28, 67.9%, 154 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT, 93.5 QBR, 1 fumble
- Wk3 vs. Jaguars: 23/40, 57.5%, 304 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT, 81.7 QBR, 1 fumble
- Wk4 vs. Falcons: 18/27, 66.7%, 227 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT, 129.7 QBR, 1 fumble
- Wk5 vs. Bills: 13/22, 59.1%, 183 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT, 86 QBR, 0 fumble
- Wk6 vs. Broncos (Benched): 7/18, 38.9%, 63 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT, 9.5 QBR, 0 fumble
Now here are his stats so far in 2022 with the Atlanta Falcons:
- Wk1 vs. Saints: 20/33, 60.6%, 215 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT, 79.7 QBR, 2 fumbles
- Wk2 vs. Rams: 17/26, 65.4%, 196 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT, 81.6 QBR, 1 fumble
- Wk3 vs. Seahawks: 13/20, 65%, 229 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 99.8 QBR, 2 fumbles
- Wk4 vs. Browns: 7/19, 36.8%, 139 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT, 41.3 QBR, 1 fumble
- Wk5 vs. Buccaneers: 14/25, 56%, 147 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT, 86.6 QBR, 1 fumble
- Wk6 vs. 49ers: 13/14, 92.9%, 129 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT, 144.6 QBR, 0 fumble
- Wk7 vs. Bengals: 8/13, 61.5%, 124 yds, 1 TD, 0INT, 118.7 QBR, 1 fumble
Honestly, the Atlanta Falcons are wishing that they could have the 2019 version of Marcus Mariota back, the same guy who got benched five-and-a-half weeks into the season. The touchdowns are down, the interceptions are up, and the fumbles are up — three things that are bound to get you in trouble as a quarterback.
Consider that he had three fumbles and one interception through roughly six games in 2019 compared to this year where he has eight fumbles and four interceptions through seven games. Isn’t being careful with the ball one of the things that Arthur Smith values the most?
It is kind of head-scratching as to why he hasn’t pulled the trigger on starting Desmond Ridder. Sure, the explanation could be that he was benching Mariota in 2019 for a veteran in Ryan Tannehill but the carelessness with the ball is costing this team.
There aren’t many, if any, excuses left for Desmond Ridder not starting, and hopefully, we will all be surprised soon by the announcement of the young QB starting for Atlanta.