Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has once again hit a wall in his NFL career, as the news broke on Thursday morning that the Atlanta Falcons would be benching Mariota, and turning to rookie Desmond Ridder as their new starting quarterback.
Mariota, the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by Tennessee, spent five seasons in Tennessee, where he went 29-32 as the starter.
In 2017, Mariota led Tennessee to the franchise’s first playoff win since the 2003 season with a 22-21 victory in Kansas City. Less than two year later, though, new head coach Mike Vrabel made the switch to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, and Mariota went to the bench after a 2-4 start.
After sitting behind Derek Carr in Las Vegas for the last two seasons, Mariota finally got another chance to start and revitalize his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2022. For a while, things looked to be going well.
After a three touchdown performance and an upset win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6, Mariota looked like he may have figured things out. He spoke to the media after that win and reflected on his time in Tennessee and the comeback journey he has been on, noting that Week 6 marked the three-year anniversary of his benching.
While Mariota has not played poorly in the weeks since, his Falcons have squandered a rare opportunity to pull away from the NFC South, and he has failed to make the big-time plays in the big-time moments. As a result, Atlanta is 5-8 with six of their losses coming in one score games. They have also lost recent matchups with Carolina, Washington, and Pittsburgh. Those are the wins playoff teams need to have.
Minkah Fitzpatrick picks off Marcus Mariota to end the game.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 4, 2022
Will we see Desmond Ridder this season or nah?pic.twitter.com/ZeVxvyxfEs
Still after all that, the Falcons are not dead. Thanks to playing in the NFL’s worst division, there is still hope for the 5-8 Falcons to catch the 6-6 Buccaneers for the top spot in the NFC South before the season wraps.
Looking for a spark down the stretch, things will be turned over to Ridder for the final four games of the regular season.
Unfortunately, Mariota seems to have hit another snag in the road. A tough thing to see for Titans fans, who wish him nothing but success in the rest of his NFL endeavors. Now the question will be if Mariota did enough during his playing time this season to warrant another starting opportunity down the line.
Feature image via Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports