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New Falcons QB Marcus Mariota ready to take the reins from Matty Ice


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After the Atlanta Falcons sent quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts, the team needed a full-time starting quarterback and Marcus Mariota is ready to be that guy.

“Those are big shoes to fill, no doubt,” Mariota said Friday, per ESPN. “I think for me, something that I’ve definitely learned over my career is that you can’t compare yourself to others. What Matt has done here, what he’s accomplished here, it’s really greatness, and for me, I just sort of charted my own path.

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“I appreciate what he’s done, I appreciate what he’s been to this organization, and the best thing I can do is try to do my best and be the best player I can be. “

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan speaks during a press conference at the NFL Team Training Center in Indianapolis on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Although the 28-year-old hasn’t been promised the starting role, he’s likely stepping into a starting role for the first time since the 2019 season. At the time, he was the quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and their offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who is now the Falcons coach.

The former Oregon QB was benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill that season and then backed Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr for two years.

He has played in 11 games over the past two seasons, completing 60% of his passes for 230 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

ESPN reports that the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft spent five years with the Titans, playing in 63 games with 61 starts and completing 62.9% of his passes for 13,207 yards and 76 touchdowns with 44 interceptions.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo /Mark Zaleski)

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo /Mark Zaleski)

In his final season with the Titans, he completed 59.4% of his passes for 1,203 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions in seven games. ESPN reports that at the end of his time with the team, Mariota said he was “mentally and physically battered” and said he had learned a lot over the past three seasons.

“During my time at Tennessee, we went through a lot of different things. I went through coaching changes, I had a broken ankle, some of those things people would call adversity,” Mariota said. “At this point in my career in 2019, I was tired. I was just a little tired of all the turnover, I was tired of being beaten, and I wasn’t playing well, and at the end of the day, it’s a performance-based business, and when you don’t play well, things happen, and I get that.

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“The last two years have been a great reset for me. I’ve had the chance to step back, learn, and feel like I’ve done and those experiences have created a lot of value for me. “

Mariota said he was attracted to the Falcons because of Smith, who he believes will always be honest with him. The QB said he didn’t communicate enough with Smith before and was “just trying to do whatever I could to please the coach” during his time at Tennessee.

Mariota said he expects communication to be better in Atlanta because of the things he learned with the Raiders. Smith said part of what contributed to why he wanted to bring Mariota in was because of the trust they had with each other, ESPN reports.

In this Jan. 19, 2020, file photo, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota warms up before the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo /Charlie Riedel, File)

In this Jan. 19, 2020, file photo, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota warms up before the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo /Charlie Riedel, File)

“There’s been a lot of growth from him and myself. Ironically, they’re completely different players, but Ryan Tannehill was in that situation when we got Ryan,” Smith said on Wednesday. “So Marcus is a top talent, just like Ryan was. He was a first-round pick. He’s at a different place in his career, and I trust Marcus, and Marcus, he’s going to come here. and he’s going to give us everything he’s got.”

Mariota said that ultimately he was thrilled with the opportunity to be in Atlanta and play for Smith.


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