Arthur Smith dodges quarterback questions after Falcons loss: ‘As a whole team, we have to do a better job’

The Atlanta Falcons suffered their third loss in four games, losing to the Carolina Panthers Thursday night, but head coach Arthur Smith refuses to blame quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Smith asked several questions about Mariota’s performance in the 25-15 loss when the former Las Vegas Raiders backup quarterback went 19-of-30 for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Atlanta Falcons No. 1 Marcus Mariota attempts a pass during the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 10, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

“There are many things that we need to do better and that starts everywhere. It starts at the top for me, and there’s a lot more that goes into the quarterback game than just stats,” Smith said, adding that he didn’t consider changing quarterbacks during the game.

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“I know those are the popular narratives, those are the easy questions to ask. As a whole team we have to do a better job – starting with myself. So every week we check if we have the right people in the right places.”

Carolina Panthers No. 7 Shaq Thompson tackles No. 1 Atlanta Falcons Marcus Mariota in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium on November 10, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Smith would have no questions about the potential to start Desmond Ridder for the 2022 third round, instead focusing on the entire team for Thursday’s loss.

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“You can do it with the quarterback, how about the team?” Smith said. “We have to get better. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to come back and do it with seven games left.”

Atlanta Falcons No. 1 Marcus Mariota jogs with teammates during a warm up against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 10, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Mariota was sacked five times and threw an interception. After the game, he acknowledged the struggles in his passing game.

“I was playing a little bit outside of myself and trying to play too often and it hurt our team.”

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He continued, “Throughout my career, I get the most problems — ill-advised throws, forcing things onto the field, rather than just climbing and keeping the chains moving.”

Mariota signed a $18.75 million, 2-year free agent contract in March with a $5 million signing bonus and a $6.75 million guarantee. The deal included a $12 million option for 2023 and a $3 million roster bonus due next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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