During their bye-week, the Atlanta Falcons benched Marcus Mariota and announced that they would be starting rookie Desmond Ridder at quarterback for the remainder of the season. That decision has led Mariota to basically quit on the team.
Atlanta coach Arthur Smith said Mariota is not currently with the team after losing his starting job, and Logan Woodside is expected to serve as Ridder’s backup. Although Mariota had been dealing with a knee injury, and Atlanta will place him on injured reserve, Smith said that isn’t necessarily the reason he is not with the team.
“(The knee) is nothing that has been an issue this season, but that’s (Mariota’s) prerogative,” Smith said, via The Athletic’s Josh Kendall. “Of course, you want all your guys to be here, but guys have to make decisions. It’s part of professional sports. You have to have contingency plans.”
Mariota signed a two-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons this past offseason, reuniting with Arthur Smith, whom he worked with in Tennessee. However, Atlanta went just 5-8 with Mariota as the starter, despite the quarterback throwing for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Atlanta is just a game back of the Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South and will now rely on Ridder down the stretch. The former University of Cincinnati quarterback was a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft.