2. Why Arthur Smith kept starting Mariota
When the Falcons put Desmond Ridder into the starting lineup the rookie quarterback was far from perfect but obviously a far better passer than Mariota. The timing of Ridder's first start could have been handled far better and provided a bit more clarity on what the Falcons are to expect from the position this season.
Arthur Smith has clearly done an impressive job coaching two bad Atlanta Falcons rosters in his first two seasons. However, if there is one obvious fault it is sticking with starters who simply aren't getting the job done.
Perhaps this series will provide more information as to why Atlanta stuck with Mariota despite the quarterback struggling badly. Whether it was respect from teammates or the coaching staff the reasons have to be deeper than what Marcus put on tape considering the consistent results.
It isn't impossible that this team could have won 9-10 games if they had made the switch sooner and allowed Ridder to grow comfortable within the offense. This would have allowed Atlanta to further evaluate Desmond as a starter as well giving far more support to building around the second-year quarterback as a franchise answer or showing the Falcons that they needed to make a move. Either way, Atlanta put Marcus Mariota into the starting lineup for far too long.