The Atlanta Falcons are making a trade at the quarterback position, with rookie Desmond Ridder starting for the team, according to NFL Media.
Veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota has been benched. The change comes as the Falcons’ playoff hopes continue to fade, as the team has lost four of its last five games.
The Falcons fell to 5-8 on the season after a 19-16 loss to the Steelers in Week 13. After the game, head coach Arthur Smith did not rule out the possibility of moving Mariota on, noting that all would be evaluated. the positions. .
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“We will have some very intense meetings in the next few days. Changes will be made. Whatever we decide to do, I will try to be as transparent as possible,” Smith said Monday. The second-year head coach previously deflected any questions regarding a possible change at quarterback.
Mariota has struggled to shoot the ball accurately and consistently this season.
The Falcons drafted Ridder in the third round out of Cincinnati. He started four years in Cincinnati and led the Bearcats to the college football playoff last season.
Ridder won 44 games in Cincinnati, which is the third most in college football history.
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The rookie was able to get a significant amount of reps during preseason, but never seemed to compete with Mariota for the starting job during training camp.
Ridder managed the scouting team once the NFL regular season began, but he also worked with Mariota and was often seen asking the veteran quarterback questions.
The Tennessee Titans benched Mariota in 2019 in favor of Ryan Tannehill; Arthur Smith served as the team’s offensive coordinator at the time.
The former Oregon star signed with the Falcons just hours after the franchise traded starter Matt Ryan to the Colts. Ryan requested a trade after the team failed to pursue embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson.
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Mariota’s best performance this year came in Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers. He threw for two touchdowns, rushed for 50 yards and completed just over 92% of his passes that day.
He was then named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
But the past few weeks have been turbulent for the Heisman Trophy winner. In the last month, Mariota has not been able to complete more than 65% of his passes. He has thrown five touchdowns and three interceptions in the last five games.
The quarterback is 184-of-300 for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on the season.
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Ridder threw for over 10,000 yards in college. He now has the last four games of the season to start testing himself at the NFL level.
The Falcons are on a bye week and will play the division rival New Orleans Saints on December 18.