Marcus Mariota’s first five weeks in Atlanta had their ups and downs, but Week 6 against the 49ers had nothing but big moments and thrilling highs for the Falcons quarterback. On the day, Mariota missed just one of his 14 passes, accounting for 129 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, and three touchdowns.
That incredibly efficient performance not only put the Falcons in a position to win against a tough opponent—and they did—but also led to Mariota being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 6.
What a week, capping it off on a high note ‼️ pic.twitter.com/SZtbIrgrOG— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 19, 2022
This was the ideal Mariota effort, a culmination of all the things Atlanta was looking for when they signed the former Raider and Titan. He made his throws count, with just one off-target toss on the entire day, and was crisp on a day where he averaged more air yards per pass than he had at any point in 2022. He escaped pressure and turned on the jets to pick up first downs, and added a score on a nice play where he got the edge and simply outran defenders. Mariota had a hand in three of Atlanta’s four scores with zero turnovers, and he did it against a terrific (and yes, banged up, but still terrific) 49ers defense.
This was sort of the blueprint for maximizing Mariota in Atlanta. Ideally the Falcons aren’t asking him to throw 25-30 times per game, but letting him pick his spots, use his legs when he sees an opportunity to do so, and lean on his strong rapport with the likes of Olamide Zaccheaus and Drake London. He’s a capable starter, but in an offense with an effective ground game and with a willingness and ability to use his strengths, Mariota showed Sunday he can be something more than that. We’ll need to see these kinds of efforts strung together—I’m not expecting him to only have one incompletion every week, obviously—but like the Falcons themselves, Mariota appears poised to surprise and succeed after Sunday.
Mariota is the second Falcons Offensive Player of the Week this year, joining Cordarrelle Patterson after the latter’s huge day against the Seahawks in Week 3, and you have to think that with the way this offense is operating that it won’t be the last time an Atlanta player takes home the hardware this year. This is the first time the Falcons have had multiple Players of the Week on offense since 2016, when they snagged the award four separate times. It’s also the fifth such award for Mariota, who picked it up twice in his rookie season back in 2015, as well as once each in 2016 and 2018.
Congratulations to Mariota, and may this be the start a terrific run for the veteran quarterback as the Falcons try to prove they’re contenders in a shaky NFC.