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Falcons’ Arthur Smith explains why he stayed with Marcus Mariota at QB over Desmond Ridder vs. Panthers

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Marcus Mariota did not make an impressive showing Thursday night. The veteran quarterback struggled in the Falcons’ 25-15 loss to the Panthers on “Thursday Night Football,” to the point where NFL Twitter was calling for rookie Desmond Ridder to take over the offense. 

While Mariota made a number of head-scratching plays throughout the game, that wasn’t enough for head coach Arthur Smith to make the switch to the first-year QB.

In fact, Smith said after the game that he never considered putting in Ridder.

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If there ever was a game to put the third-round draft pick from Cincinnati in, it should have been this one. Mariota was sloppy with his decision-making. He turned the ball over just once, but there were a number of plays where Mariota escaped by the skin of his teeth.  

Mariota was almost picked off in the first quarter when he was forced toward the sideline and, instead of throwing the ball out of bounds, heaved it into the end zone. The pass should have been intercepted, but the Panthers’ Xavier Woods dropped it. 

In the second quarter, Mariota made another terrible decision to not go out of bounds or throw the ball away. Instead, he chucked it downfield, where Jaycee Horn was waiting with open arms for the interception. 

The worst play of the night could have gone a lot worse than it did. On fourth-and-18 and his team trailing by seven in the fourth quarter, Mariota again faced pressure. He tried to avoid Frankie Luvu but was tripped up, causing him to fall to the turf. 

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Instead of just taking the sack, Mariota elected to throw the ball despite being on his back and facing the sky. It went right into the arms of a Carolina defender, who took it all the way to the Falcons’ end zone even though the officials had already blown the play dead. Mariota correctly was ruled down before he attempted his desperation throw. 

In all, Mariota completed 19 of 30 attempts for 186 yards, two touchdowns and the one INT. 

He acknowledged after the game that he was trying to spark his team, which is why he tried to go outside the box with some of his decisions. 

Playing on Thursday night means the Falcons will have more time to prepare for their next contest, which will be at home against the Bears on Nov. 20. Ridder has yet to see any playing time, but given Mariota’s play as of late, his NFL debut could be coming sooner than later. Smith said after the game that his approach toward who is the No. 1 QB won’t change. 

We will see if it is still Mariota at the helm for the Falcons in Week 11.

Credit: sportingnews.com

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