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#pounditSaturday, June 15, 2024

Falcons coach answers whether he considered making QB switch

Marcus Mariota in a T-shirt

Oct 7, 2018; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) walks on the field to warm up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Mariota struggled for the second straight game in the Atlanta Falcons’ loss to the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, but head coach Arthur Smith insists he did not consider benching the veteran quarterback.

Mariota went 19/30 for just 186 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in Atlanta’s 25-15 loss. After the game, Smith was asked if he thought about replacing Mariota with rookie Desmond Ridder. He responded with an emphatic “no.”

Smith then became annoyed with all of the questions about Mariota’s play. He said the media can “make it about the quarterback” all they want but that the Falcons have had opportunities to win the last two weeks in “a lot of different ways.”

Notably, Smith would not commit to starting Mariota in next week’s game against the Chicago Bears. The Falcons have nine days to figure that out, but it seems like there is at least a chance Ridder could start.

While Mariota has not played terribly this season, Atlanta’s passing offense has been ineffective. The Falcons are averaging just 156.8 passing yards per game, which ranks 30th in the NFL. They rank fifth in the league with 160.4 rushing yards per game, so they have clearly had a difficult time finding a balance. That is one of the biggest reasons they are 4-6.

The question, of course, is whether Smith feels the offense would be any better with Ridder. Teams often get an initial spark from a quarterback change, but it is difficult for any rookie to step in halfway through a season and succeed.

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