Marcus Mariota via Atlanta Falcons YouTube

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith appeared to reveal that former starting quarterback Marcus Mariota left the team after he lost the starting position to Desmond Ridder.

Arthur Smith via Atlanta Falcons

During a press conference, Smith first announced that Ridder would start in the upcoming game against the New Orleans Saints.

Smith stated, “In regards to roster moves, we did make a switch at quarterback. So Desmond Ridder will be the starter. It’s a performance-based decision. Obviously, where are circumstances are, like I talked last time about trying to get over the hump in some of these close games and where we tried to push the offense, we feel like this is the best decision not only where he’s at, but where the team’s at as we prepare to go down to New Orleans.”

Marcus Mariota via Atlanta Falcons YouTube

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He then revealed the team “signed Logan Woodside for depth at the quarterback.”

Smith continued, “That move was made as Marcus goes and — he’s got an old chronic knee he wants to get evaluated. That had nothing to do with this decision, but he’ll go. So, he’s not here right now. And we’ll see how the rest of the week goes, but I anticipate him going on IR.”

Arthur Smith via Atlanta Falcons

As to why he chose to go with Ridder over Mariota, Smith explained, “As you’re evaluating, so really in the last month or so, we’ve been in some of these close games, where we’re at in the season, where I thought we were trending, we made a lot of progress offensively. Obviously, some things we’ve evolved and tried to push to in the passing game. And we’re close, but we need to get over that hump.”

He continued, “We feel also the growth from Desmond that we’ve seen. He’s been one play away all season. But feel very comfortable where he’s at right now to be able to handle the game plan and operate it at full capacity.

“Again, we would have adapted if he had to play earlier in the season, but feel really good where he’s at right now. So both those things factored into it. And, again, I wouldn’t have made this decision if I didn’t think it was in the best interest of this team, not only short term, but probably long term as well,” Smith stated.

Marcus Mariota via Atlanta Falcons YouTube

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When asked about Mariota going onto IR, Smith said, “I would anticipate that. And that had nothing to do with the move here, but there’s — like a lot of athletes something chronic, nothing that’s been an issue this season, but that’s their prerogative. And so as this happens — that’s why we signed Logan on Saturday to make sure we had depth there.

Once that decision is made, I’ll update you, but he’s not here right now. So in case — just giving you full transparency.

Smith then avoided a question on whether the switch actually did push Mariota to get his knee examined saying, “I’m not a medical expert. Just telling you it had nothing to do with the decision. And we’ll just see how the week plays out.”

Arthur Smith via Atlanta Falcons

Mariota and the Falcons are 5-8 and this year. He had completed 61.3% of his passes for a total of 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions.

His best performances stats wise came against the San Francisco 49ers on October 16th and the Carolina Panthers on October 30th.

Mariota went 13-14 for 129 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers. He also ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on six rushes. He had a QB rating of 144.6. Against Carolina he went 20 for 28 for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Albeit he also threw two interceptions. He had a QB rating of 105.2

Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Marcus Mariota, and offensive tackle, Kaleb McGary, during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Mercedes Benz Stadium on August 27, 2022. Photo Credit: Atlanta Falcons, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

What do you make of Mariota apparently leaving the team after losing his starting position?

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