Mariota & Ridder: Falcons’ Superstars or Not Yet?  

Staff Writer: Kevin Mitchell 

The NFL regular season is approaching quickly and for the Falcons organization, this year could be the one that makes the turnaround on the view that the team has gained since the infamous Super Bowl loss.  

Last season the Falcons attempted to gain the talents of Deshaun Watson who is a very controversial player now. The organization made out better than most would think, especially since Watson is now on an 11-game suspension. Losing out on him was a plus for the team in the long run but the thing still up in the air was whether making the attempt was worth the loss of the 4x Pro Bowler talent of Matt Ryan.  

Ryan was traded to the Indianapolis Colts and Marcus Mariota was brought in to be the starter and then Desmond Ridder was acquired through the draft. After the opening preseason game, Falcons vs. Lions, there were some noticeable differences in the game play of Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota. Although it was just a preseason game, it garnered the support of some Falcons fans who were still holding out on the decision.  

Mobility at the QB position is something that was lacking for the Falcons. Mariota came out with a strong run on one of the opening drives of the game. Known as being more on the injury prone side of the league, Mariota came out rushing strong and many Falcons fans were shocked by that fact. Mobility is key and being able to extend the play is also key and that’s what wasn’t present when it came to the 2021 Falcons.

At what point will Ridder be the Falcons’ starter?
Photo Credit: Falcons Wire – USA Today

Desmond Ridder currently sits in 5th place with rushing yards in preseason and he is the only QB in that top 10 list. Ridder is a player that gives hope for the future. He is mature on all accords of the game and that’s on and off the field. Ridder is easily the most NFL ready of the quarterbacks that came out of the draft. Of course, the Falcons are sticking with Mariota as starter quite obviously due to the experience factor but in the future, some fans think near future, Ridder will have his chance at the starting job for Atlanta.  

As said above, Mariota looked good in the preseason starts he had. This comes after his 2-year stint as the backup quarterback to Derek Carr with the Las Vegas Raiders. Before this time, Mariota was the starter with the Tennesse Titans for 5 years which is important to note because while he was in Tennesse, he was working with the former Titans coach and now Falcons head coach, Arthur Smith. “Marcus Mariota has always been a good quarterback,” says Woodstock High School senior Michael Recio-Elder, “I find it too early to really say what he could be with the Falcons.”  

Photo Credit: George Walker IV 
Mariota points to the sky after a win over the Jaguars.

This situation of Mariota being in Atlanta is a reunion of sorts with Arthur Smith. Despite Smith not being one who truly answers questions on the team, he has overwhelmingly made comments on Mariota and Ridder speaking on how they have progressed during OTA and this preseason time. The Falcons aren’t projected to have a heavy win season but with the way these 2 QB’s have been looking, this brings hope for the future of the Atlanta Falcons organization. In the next few years, the Falcons are going to shock a lot of people. The experience is present now, all that’s holding the team back is execution. Woodstock High School senior Jaden Moore said, “The Falcons are a team with heavy potential. Once players like Drake London and Tyler Allgeier get more experience under them, the Falcons are back to superstar caliber.”  

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