And former Atlanta QB-turned-NFL analyst, Michael Vick, believes the team is going in the right direction with Mariota at the helm as the more experienced quarterback.
“I think it’s definitely Marcus’ job,” Vick told the media on Wednesday, August 10. “Marcus should be the starter. I would think he would be the starter. Desmond (Ridder) would have to do some amazing things to overcome that.
“But at the same time, he’s (getting) to sit back and learn from a veteran who has had a lot of experience, a ton of experience. He can just navigate the season with no pressure. I think that’s extremely important for a young rookie. With Marcus at the helm, this team should be in good shape on offense.”
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The Falcons Face a Tough Season Ahead
Despite drafting Ridder in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Falcons had plans all along to use Mariota as their starter.
“We’ve added competition certainly,” head coach Arthur Smith said back in May, via The Athletic. “Marcus being the veteran gives us a chance going forward. As with any position on this team, the best player is going to play, but obviously, Marcus being the vet, that’s the way it’ll go starting out.”
For the Falcons, who are still in a rebuilding stage, it makes more sense to go with the seasoned quarterback rather than throw a rookie into the fire. All NFL players will tell you that the transition from the college level to the next level isn’t easy. Ridder will spend most of his “off” time studying the playbook and work hard to earn the trust of his teammates and coaches. All of that takes time. Not to mention that the Falcons’ schedule this season is a tough one for any rookie as the team faces Tom Brady twice (again) along with Super Bowl Champs LA Rams and runner-up Cincinnati Bengals.
Mariota Taking Leadership Role Seriously
Being a QB1 takes a special kind of player…a player who has the leadership skills for the job and isn’t afraid to take control or fix problems.
“You have to be able to go up there and communicate and talk through certain situations and talk through the scenario, what happened, talk through what you saw, what we can get better at,” Mariota said following practice on Wednesday, August 10. “I really believe in constant communication and, at the same time, I think it’s just a little bit of encouragement.
“Sometimes guys get a little down if they’re not getting the ball, I think they understand that it is a competition but if you put out great routes and you practice hard, that’s all that we’re asking from you.”
Mariota has certainly settled into his leadership role quite nicely, according to tight end Kyle Pitts.
“Offensively, he runs everything. He’s in charge of everything,” Pitts said. “So, if he sees us slacking a little bit, he’s going to pick us back up. He wants consistency and improvement on a daily basis. He’s a mixture of being vocal and leading by example. He sets the tone and everybody picks up on that.”
Atlanta kicks off their first preseason game on Friday, August 12 against the Detroit Lions where fans will catch a glimpse at just what to expect from their new QB1 and the 2022 Falcons.