Falcons Make Decision on Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder: Report


Getty Desmond Ridder and Marcus Mariota of the Atlanta Falcons

It’s happening.

The Atlanta Falcons are benching veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota for the rookie QB Desmond Ridder, a source told ESPN’s Michael Rothstein.

The decision comes after the Falcons lost a must-win game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 19-16 where Mariota completed 13 of 24 passes for 167 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

When asked after the game if a QB switch was coming, head coach Arthur Smith hinted that changes would be made.

“Everything’s on the table,” Smith told reporters after the game when asked about making the switch to Ridder. “It’ll be good to take a step back. There will be changes made. We have to look at everything.”

Mariota finishes the season completing 184-of-300 for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions for Atlanta. He also rushed for a career-high 85 times for 438 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran the ball 501 times for 2,180 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Ridder Came to Atlanta With A Lot of Confidence in Himself

The Falcons drafted Ridder out of Cincinnati with the 74th overall pick in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

As a four-year starter for the Bearcats, Ridder tossed for a total of 10,239 yards with 87 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in 50 career games. He also produced on the ground, running the ball 501 times for 2,180 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Ahead of the draft, Ridder told reporters that he believed he was the most NFL-ready QB in his class.

“I played five years, so I have the most experience,” Ridder said at the NFL Combine. “I’ve played in many situations over my five years at Cincinnati. I feel like I am the most ready prospect mentally and athletically.”

However, Ridder ended up being the second QB to go off the board behind first-round pick Kenny Pickett, who went to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ridder will get the start in the Falcons’ final four games against the New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Rookie Now Has Four Games to Prove Himself

Falcons fans have not seen Ridder since the three preseason games where he posted some promising numbers, going 34-for-56 for 431 passing yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed eight times for 58 yards.

There hasn’t been much talk of Ridder’s progress since then, so the unknown is coming in Week 15.

However, less than a month ago, when fans first took over Twitter and begged Atlanta to bench Mariota, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport put out a report that the Falcons have been relatively happy with Ridder’s progress behind the scenes.

“The Falcons, sources say, do love the development of the third-rounder from Cincinnati,” Rapoport wrote. “In the preseason, he flashed poise and accuracy. It was enough to allow the Falcons to have him be their backup, rather than sign a veteran in case Mariota was injured. That is faith in their rookie.”

With the Falcons deciding to make the switch at the end of the year, Ridder ultimately has four games to prove himself or the Falcons could turn to the 2023 NFL draft for his replacement.





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