The Atlanta Falcons are coming into the season as a rebuilding team. This rebuilding process went into full force this offseason when the Falcons finally cut ties with longtime franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. With Ryan now a member of the Indianapolis Colts, it left a wide-open starting quarterback spot for the Falcons and the team is currently having a quarterback battle. Those around the team have said this competition for the starting spot has sharpened the games of both players.
The player that is currently set to be the starter for the Falcons is Marcus Mariota. Mariota appeared to be a generational quarterback in college. He was a Heisman winner and the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Mariota’s game did not translate to the NFL as well as many thought. If he would have entered the league during this era rather than in 2015, Mariota’s career could have played out completely differently. Around the time of his rookie season, dual-threat quarterbacks were nowhere near as prevalent as they are today and many coaches did not know how to put a game plan around a quarterback like that. Along with this, Mariota did not end up being the passer that many believed he would develop into. As a result of this, he has become a journeyman in the past few years. After his time with the Tennessee Titans, he joined the Las Vegas Raiders where he spent most of his time as the backup to Derek Carr. Mariota only played in ten games and did not start in a single game in his two seasons in Los Vegas.
This could be the first chance that Mariota gets to be the starter of an NFL team. The opportunity he has with the Falcons could be the last one he gets in his career and Mariota knows this. As a result of this, Mariota has put on a show at camp and is doing everything he can to earn the starting spot.
The second half of the quarterback competition in Atlanta is Desmond Ridder. Ridder is a rookie and was selected with the 74th overall pick of the 2022 NFL draft. He had an incredible collegiate career at the University of Cincinnati. Ridder is a proven winner who never lost a home game in his four years as the team’s starting quarterback. Ridder has a really nice arm and the ability to extend plays with his feet. While he is not the world’s best athlete, he can still make defenders miss in the open field. Coming into the league as this rookie class’s most pro-ready quarterback, the Falcons will likely give Ridder the nod to become the team’s starter around the halfway point of the season. When his time comes, he will prove himself as a perfect young quarterback to build around and that he has the potential to fill the hole Matt Ryan left as the franchise quarterback for the Falcons moving forward.