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Reports: NFC South team to bench starting QB for rookie after bye

With the 2022 NFL season rapidly waning and playoff races narrowing, the Atlanta Falcons will reportedly make a major shakeup.

According to multiple reports, the team will bench starting quarterback Marcus Mariota following its Week 14 bye and will turn to Desmond Ridder for the rest of the season.

Atlanta’s remaining four games this season will be against the New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the first two coming on the road.

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Falcons (5-8) head coach Arthur Smith was asked about making a potential change at quarterback following the team’s 19-16 loss Sunday against the Steelers — Atlanta’s fourth defeat in its last five games — and Smith had left the door open.

‘Everything is on the table,’ Smith told reporters Sunday. ‘We got this late bye [week], we got a quarter of the season left and we will come into tomorrow and talk as a staff this week. Certainly, every option is on the table.’

Ridder, 23, was the team’s third-round selection in the most recent draft. He threw for 10,239 yards and 87 touchdowns in four seasons at Cincinnati. In Atlanta’s first preseason game of the year, Ridder threw a game-winning touchdown against the Lions.

Mariota had played moderately well this season, though his accuracy had been an issue. Through 13 games, he completed 61.3% of his passes for 2,219 yards with 15 touchdowns versus nine interceptions for an 88.2 QB rating. Also known for his mobility, Mariota added 438 rushing yards and four scores on the ground on 85 carries.

Mariota, 29, was the second overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft for the Tennessee Titans. Mariota played five seasons there before joining the Raiders for two. He had signed with the Falcons as a free agent in March of this year.

Despite being three games under .500, the Falcons are very much in the playoff race and are just 1 1/2 games back of the first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) in the NFC South. 

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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