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

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

Smith fielded 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. 

“There’s a lot of things we got to do better and it starts everywhere. It starts at the top with me and there’s a lot more that goes into quarterback play than just stats,” Smith said, adding that he did not consider a quarterback change 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’ve got to do a better job – starting with myself. So, we look every week to make sure we’ve got the right guys in the right spots.”

Smith would not entertain questions about the potential to start 2022 third round pick Desmond Ridder, instead putting the focus of Thursday’s loss on the entire team. 

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“You can make it about the quarterback, how about the team?” Smith said. “We gotta get better. We’re thankful that we’ve got an opportunity to come back and do that with seven games left.”

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 trying to make a play too many times and it hurt our team.”

He continued, “Looking throughout my career, that’s when I get in the most trouble — ill-advised throws, forcing things down the field instead of just scrambling and keeping the chains moving.” 

Mariota signed a two-year, $18.75 million free agent deal with a $5 million signing bonus and $6.75 million guaranteed in March. 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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