Atlanta Falcons continue to win despite Marcus Mariota
By Nick Halden
The Atlanta Falcons have found themselves in an odd position atop the NFC South at 4-4 despite a struggling defense and inconsistent quarterback play. The one part of Mariota’s game Atlanta has been able to count on this season is his ability to put the ball on the turf or throw to the wrong jersey.
The problem for Mariota and Atlanta is the fact that the Falcons will likely continue to start Mariota as long as the team is winning. While this logic is hard to argue against so is making an argument that Mariota is a starting NFL quarterback on a team contending for the division.
Don’t mistake where the Falcons are to a good season from Mariota. While he has had great moments for Atlanta they are far outweighed by his consistent missed throws, turnovers, and standing in the pocket far too long until the pass rush gets home.
This was perfectly illustrated on Sunday when the Falcons had the ball first in overtime with the chance to win the game and take hold of the division. Mariota delivered an interception that set Carolina up for a game-winning field goal. Their kicker missed and Mariota delivered on his second chance scrambling to put Koo in field goal range and help give Atlanta the win.
While the Falcons won this game in the end it is important to remember that they should never have had that second chance in overtime. Mariota’s turnover should have been the dagger and perhaps would have been the final straw for Arthur Smith. Desmond Ridder doesn’t have to be a great quarterback to be a superior passer and will still be able to run the read-option plays that Smith is so fond of.
Beating Carolina was a perfect example of how Atlanta has been winning this season. They are creating big plays on both sides of the ball and finding a way to hang in games when their starting quarterback is suddenly unable to complete college-level throws.
While nothing is likely to change as long as the Falcons are winning it isn’t hard to see that Marcus Mariota isn’t a starting quarterback and should have already been benched in favor of the promising rookie.