FLOWER BRANCH, Ga. (AP) – Arthur Smith quickly put an end to speculation that extra time between games for…
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Arthur Smith was quick to put to rest speculation that the extra time between Atlanta Falcons games would allow the coach to replace the quarterback.
Marcus Mariota will keep his starting job after back-to-back losses.
When asked Monday about the quarterback situation, Smith said: “There is no situation. There has never been a situation, never.”
“You understand why the questions are being asked,” Smith said. “You lose two games in five days and everyone wants to panic. We are right in the middle of it. We’re not where we want to be, but the reality is we’re right in the middle of a playoff race with a conference opponent coming in here and a game we’ve got to win.”
Mariota completed 19 of 30 passes for 186 yards with two touchdowns and one interception Thursday night 25-15 losses in Carolina. Mariota led the team with 43 yards.
Thursday night’s game provided extra rest for the Falcons (4-6) before Sunday’s home game against Chicago. This time was not dedicated to the transition to the position of defender. Rookie Desmond Reeder is still waiting for his first snap as the Falcons prepare to face the Bears.
“If we were going to make a change, I would tell you,” Smith said.
Smith said that “every week is up for grabs. If we felt that one move would definitely decide our victory or defeat, we would do it. We’re not at that point in a lot of places.”
On the season, Mariota completed 61.9% of his passes for 1,747 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His dual-threat skills were viewed as a good fit for Smith’s offense in the first run, when Atlanta was 4-4 and tied for the NFC South lead.
Back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina have raised more questions about Smith’s plan at quarterback, even if the Falcons clearly have other concerns.
Mariota was accused of “playing a little out of his depth” in the loss to Carolina.
“I was just trying to get a spark,” Mariota said Thursday night. “I think, looking back over my entire career, that’s when I get into the most trouble. Reckless throws. Force things on the field. Instead of just scrambling, walk a few yards and keep the chains moving.’
The Falcons are still just one game behind first place Tampa Bay weak NFC Southmaking it difficult for Smith to hand off the offense to Reeder, this year’s third-round pick out of Cincinnati.
Entering Sunday’s games, the Falcons are fourth in the league with 160.4 rushing yards per game, but trail only Tennessee and Chicago in passing, averaging 156.8 yards per game.
There is no certainty that switching to Ridder will add more balance to the attack. Smith’s pursuit of a balanced running back under Cordarrelle Patterson and rookie Tyler Allgeier has helped the Falcons stay competitive.
Four of the Falcons’ first five losses were one-goal games, and against the Panthers they were held to seven points before a turnover led to a last-second field goal by Carolina for a 10-point victory .
Falcons there are other problems, including on both lines. The offensive line gave the Panthers five sacks and the defense allowed 232 yards. Now, the Falcons defense must prepare for Chicago’s dominant running game.
“Chicago is going to come in here and try to run it 500 times, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Smith said.
Smith said cornerback AJ Terrell, who missed three games with a hamstring injury, could return this week.
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