When things have gone wrong for the Atlanta Falcons this season more often than not it is Marcus Mariota who has been at the heart of the problem. Outside of Atlanta’s blowout loss to the Bengals almost every game has been a nail-biter decided in the final moments. Whether it is a wild throw, an interception, or letting the ball fall to the turf Mariota seems to find a way in clutch moments to make the one mistake the Falcons can’t survive.
While Mariota is obviously culpable for these mistakes at this point in the season he longer deserves blame for these key mistakes. With Desmond Ridder on the bench and with the Atlanta coaching staff clearly aware of his limitations, Mariota is continuing to start despite these obvious issues.
As long as the coaching staff continues to start Mariota with another unknown option behind them the blame should land on Arthur Smith and the coaching staff. Let’s be clear Smith is overachieving with this roster and giving the Falcons a better chance to win each week than this team deserves. He has proven he is the right man for the job and given the Falcons reason to believe they can return to the playoffs next season when he is able to work without a massive dead cap hit.
However, just because he is the right coach for the Falcons doesn’t mean his decision-making is perfect, and starting Mariota continues to be a mistake. One that has cost Atlanta this season and will continue to cost them.
Mariota seems to be a truly great teammate and guy but this doesn’t cover up for the fact he isn’t a starting quarterback in this league. His mistakes and inability to run a passing attack are far too glaring for Arthur Smith to ignore and will only result in improved draft positioning for an Atlanta team that somehow is still in the playoff race.