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Marcus Mariota proving he is Atlanta Falcons’ prime possibility at quarterback – Atlanta Falcons Weblog

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – It was late in Saturday’s follow, and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota appeared to have nowhere to throw. The protection was good, however this was a pink zone play, so he took off for the top zone.

And when he scored, Mariota celebrated by launching the soccer greater than midway up the hill the place followers sit and watch follow. It was without delay a second of exhilaration within the midst of some of the aggressive practices of coach Arthur Smith’s tenure and maybe a launch for the quarterback himself.

“It is most likely a bit bit extra emotion than I’ve seen from him shortly,” Smith stated. “In all probability a bit little bit of it’s a little cathartic.”

It has been a number of years since Mariota, the No. 2 decide within the 2015 draft, has been on this place – going right into a season as a staff’s presumptive beginning quarterback. It was a part of the attract of coming to Atlanta, together with reuniting with Smith, his former offensive coordinator. After two years with the Las Vegas Raiders because the backup to Derek Carr, this was an opportunity to be the lead man once more.

When Mariota signed in March after Atlanta traded franchise icon Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts, he knew he was coming into a difficult place, changing one of the best quarterback in staff historical past. However he’d been by a lot – accidents, shedding his job, two years primarily watching – that this may very well be one of the best alternative he had.

It will make sense if Mariota felt that approach, and it has proven in camp.

He has been constant and getting the overwhelming majority of the reps with the primary unit — at the least with the offensive line, because the pass-catchers have been biking by with each Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder. Mariota feels snug with the offense and acquainted with what he’s being requested to do – even when he has a bunch of recent guys enjoying alongside him. He’s transferring effectively and appears to have a rhythm.

Offensive coordinator Dave Ragone praised Mariota for not pressuring the ball into spots and discovering the open receiver. It sounds easy, however usually quarterbacks don’t do this. Mariota didn’t throw an incompletion in a staff interval – at the least throughout the components open for for commentary – till the third day of follow.

“Actually his experiences introduced him to this place,” Smith stated. “And he’s in a great rhythm. He’s in a great move on the market.”

By all appearances, Mariota has been working as if he would be the starter at the start of the season, though Smith most likely will strategy quarterback as he does each different place: The most effective man performs. However in relation to third-rounder Ridder, it is essential to remember that previously six years, the one non-first-round rookie quarterbacks to begin Week 1 have been Deshone Kizer for the Cleveland Browns in 2017 and Dak Prescott for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.

Quarterbacks coach Charles London advised Mariota and Ridder they wanted to come back again from their six-week summer time break able to go. It was evident they complied by how they performed with out pads the primary week.

Mariota was the crisper, extra correct quarterback. Ridder confirmed indicators of progress working behind Mariota.

Mariota has been assisted by good receiver play as there have been some less-than-pinpoint throws, and he has thrown a number of brief passes – however that’s a part of taking what’s out there. A key for Mariota might be his accuracy. As a starter for the Tennessee Titans from 2015 to 2019, he had a 62.9 completion share, twenty fifth within the NFL for that span.

He began 61 of 80 potential video games with the Titans, though in seasons when he was the clear-cut starter, he missed solely eight video games. Solely twice did Mariota miss back-to-back video games – each in his rookie 12 months.

Mariota additionally rushed for 1,399 yards and 11 touchdowns in his 5 season as a Titan, though he was benched for Ryan Tannehill in 2019. However the quarterback and his new head coach have grown since their Titans days, and the reunion affords Mariota an opportunity to rediscover what labored for him early in his profession with the advantage of extra expertise.

“It’s an awesome alternative for me to show, not solely to myself however to those that have believed in me,” Mariota stated. “So, I’m excited. The final couple of years was an awesome reset. I discovered quite a bit from Derek. I discovered quite a bit from being there. I really feel able to go.”

In Tennessee, he discovered he continually wanted to show himself. Then, in Vegas for the previous couple of seasons, his preparation remained the identical. Simply Sundays have been completely different. As an alternative of being below middle, he relayed what he noticed to Carr, making an attempt to assist the Raiders win video games from the sidelines as a substitute of along with his arm and legs.

However he was all the time constructing towards one other shot. Atlanta referred to as and gave him the chance. And now he’s as soon as once more main an NFL staff — so long as he performs effectively sufficient to carry onto it.

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