Falcons QB Marcus Mariota Opens Up About Journey to Redemption


Getty Marcus Mariota No. 1 of the Atlanta Falcons.

“Three years ago, I was benched on this week,” quarterback Marcus Mariota told reporters after leading the Atlanta Falcons to a 28-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

After three years as a backup quarterback, Mariota is getting what most NFL quarterbacks don’t get: a second chance.

And the former Heisman Trophy winner could not be more grateful at getting a new life as the Falcons’ starting QB.

“I’m forever grateful for this organization to allow me to have that chance,” Mariota said. “Look across the league – a lot of guys in my situation don’t really get a second chance. For them to call me in and give me this opportunity to be a part of a young team means the world to me.”

Confidence Is Key

For five weeks, critics did nothing but slam Mariota for poor performances through the air––many of them calling for head coach Arthur Smith to put rookie Desmond Ridder in.

And then Mariota finished Sunday’s game by completing 13 of 14 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding six rushes for 50 yards and one more TD on the ground against a stingy Niners’ defense.

The difference between this past Sunday and the others was that Mariota was able to dig deep and find his confidence once again.

“You go through a process of looking within and reflecting,” Mariota said. “Throughout that journey for me, I knew that I had to find that confidence to be able to play at a high level. When you get your confidence taken away from you, it is tough as an athlete, because I think that’s truly your only mental weapon that you have.”

But that’s not all. Weeks of slander can get old and being able to turn his previous benched story into a positive one, was on his mind.

“Well today it did (cross my mind) a little bit,” Mariota admitted. “But I’m truly grateful for what happened to me, because I’m here because of it. I’ve gotten this opportunity, I’m back with Arthur, I’m back with this team, I’m able to help this young group. I’ll never take any of that for granted. It’s in the past, and just continue to learn from it.”

It’s All About Redemption for Mariota

Smith working with the Tennessee Titans the day Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill.

Tennesee was trailing Denver 13-0 in the third quarter when Mariota was pulled after a horrific start that saw him complete just seven of 18 passes for 63 yards and two interceptions.

That was the day Mariota lost his starting job. And then nearly three years later, he got the call in March for an opportunity of a lifetime.

“When I look back on it, it was that I wanted to redeem myself,” Mariota said. “I really believe in what Arthur is doing. I believe in the scheme. I didn’t play well enough (at Tennessee), and I wanted to have an opportunity to redeem myself, and to be able to show that I can play in this system.”

Mariota’s first few starts have been far from perfect, which is no surprise to Smith. However, he’s noticed how more comfortable he’s gotten each week while back in a starting role.

“He didn’t play for two and a half years,” Smith said. “So, it took a couple of games, and there are some things where you’re kind of rusty here and there, but I feel like every game he’s getting more comfortable.”




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