The Philadelphia Eagles were in need of a new backup quarterback after allowing Gardner Minshew to leave in free agency. And so the Birds signed Marcus Mariota, The Prince Who Was Promised, to a one-year contract.
Let’s get to know the new QB2 better by getting an Atlanta Falcons perspective on Mariota. Here’s what Evan Birchfield from The Falcoholic had to say about him through answers to my questions.
1 - How would you recap Mariota’s time with the Falcons?
I would say Marcus Mariota’s time in Atlanta went about exactly to plan. Mariota was brought in, in my opinion, as a bridge for the Falcons from Matt Ryan to whomever their next franchise starter is, which appears to be Desmond Ridder. We’ll see how that goes. With the Falcons using a 2022 third-round selection on Ridder, it was only a matter of time until Mariota was benched to see what the rookie had.
2 - How do Falcons fans feel about the team not retaining him?
I can’t speak for all fans, but I would say most have no strong feelings about him not being retained. Based on reports, Mariota didn’t take the benching well and left the team once he got benched. Whether that’s actually true or not, most Falcons’ fans would agree that he wasn’t a long term quarterback and they’re more excited to see what the future hold, whether it’s Ridder or someone else.
3 - What are his strengths?
I’d say Mariota’s strengths are his mobility, release, and short pass accuracy. He’s an ideal backup quarterback who can come in and give their team a realistic chance of winning if the starter is unavailable.
4 - What are his weaknesses?
In my opinion, Mariota’s weaknesses would be pocket presence and arm strength, which is adequate but very inconsistent.
5 - Anything to know about him off the field?
I have no real questions about Mariota off the field. He appears to be a fine person, although as mentioned when he got benched he reportedly left the team sighting injury which was a bit messy. But unlike Desmond Ridder, I would argue Jalen Hurts doesn’t need Mariota to teach him anything so I wouldn’t worry about any sort of mentorship from him. Overall, he’s a solid backup, probably a top-5 backup quarterback in the league.
BLG’s take: Mariota clearly brings experience to the table. Including two playoff games, he’s logged 76 career starts. There’s reason to believe he won’t look totally lost should he have to play in relief of Hurts. Especially since the Eagles employ multiple familiar assistants who ostensibly understand how to utilize him best. Mariota is coming off his best season as a volume runner and his efficiency metrics were good as well. He ranked only behind Justin Fields, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen in yards after contact per attempt. Only four quarterbacks forced more missed tackles than Mariota did. The good news is the Eagles won’t have to scrap QB runs from their playbook now if Hurts isn’t available. The bad news is they likely will have to go away from their deep passing attack. Mariota had the second-worst passer rating (37.0) of any quarterback on throws of 20-plus yards last year. He’ll obviously be working with better receivers in Philly than he had in Atlanta, so that could help him. But, as Evan noted, it’s just not a strength of his. And neither is ball security. Though not quite as awful as Carson Wentz’s 72 fumbles over 92 starts, Mariota is at 43 in 76.