After washing out with the Tennessee Titans and backing up with the Las Vegas Raiders, Marcus Mariota has another chance to shine.
Redemption stories are some of the best America has to offer. And does this country ever love them.
Marcus Mariota has such an opportunity presented to himself currently. The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft is trying to resurrect his career after spending five years with the Tennessee Titans before signing on for the most-recent two campaigns as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.
While in Tennessee, Mariota spent all five years with current Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who then was an offensive assistant in varying capacities. Following Atlanta’s trade on Monday to send star quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round pick, Smith wanted Mariota and got him on a two-year deal.
For Mariota, it’s a tall task to replace Ryan, something he understands well. Per ESPN:
“Those are big shoes to fill, no doubt. I think, for me, something I definitely learned over the course of my career is that you can’t compare yourself to other people. What Matt did here, what he’s accomplished here, is truly greatness, and for me, I just have to kind of carve my own path.
“I appreciate what he’s done, appreciate what he’s been for this organization, and the best thing that I can do is try to put my best foot forward and be the best player that I can be.”
While Mariota is clearly being brought in with the notion of being a bridge to the next franchise quarterback, the native Hawaiian has a chance to prove he can play at an elite level. This is something he did years ago at the University of Oregon, earning him such a high draft slot. While with the Ducks in the Pac-12, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards with 105 touchdowns against only 14 interceptions.
For Mariota, this won’t be an easy place to revive his career. Although he has a head coach who believes in him, the Falcons are bereft of talent at receiver while the offensive line is also in flux. If Mariota proves himself a starting-caliber talent, it’ll be because of his gifts and Smith’s ability to scheme.
Regardless, this is likely Mariota’s last moment to show what he can do. For the former top prospect, it has to happen now.