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#pounditWednesday, August 10, 2022

Leader emerges in Falcons’ QB competition

Arthur Smith on the field

May 25, 2021; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith on the field during Falcons OTA at the Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons will report for training camp in late July, and all eyes will shift to their quarterback situation. That’s where Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder will battle it out.

For the first time since 2008, someone other than Matt Ryan will assume the Falcons’ starting QB role. Although there is much still to be determined, early reports seem to suggest Mariota has a lead on the rookie.

ESPN reports that Mariota “appears to be far ahead of Ridder right now” after a strong spring. However, they caution that Ridder also impressed and things could change rapidly.

Ultimately, Mariota was brought in as a bridge from Ryan to Ridder. He’ll be expected to serve as a functional starter as the rookie continues to develop both on and off the field. How soon the eventual swap comes is anybody’s guess, but it will likely hinge on Mariota’s production and the team’s competitiveness.

Of course, things could also change during training camp. If Ridder unquestionably outperforms Mariota, the team will have to consider their options. The “waiting game” for rookie quarterbacks isn’t what it once was — they are expected to start much earlier in their careers. Their leash is also considerably shorter.

Ideally, the Falcons would like to get Ridder comfortable with the offense and used to the speed of the game. And while nothing is a substitute for on-field experience, Atlanta will be cautious in their approach. Even if Mariota is under center to start the season, expect to see Ridder at some point.

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