Marcus Mariota has big lead on Desmond Ridder, for now

The Falcons had a franchise quarterback until they didn’t. Now, they have a guy who was supposed to be a franchise quarterback, but he has not earned that distinction, yet.

Marcus Mariota nevertheless seems to be entrenched as the Week One starter. Via Michael Rothstein, Mariota “appears to be far ahead” of rookie Desmond Ridder, and Mariota “looked sharp” in offseason workouts.

It’s no surprise. Ridder is raw. He needs time to learn the game.

But he may not have that luxury. Although injuries are unpredictable, Mariota’s style puts him at risk for contact, which brings with it potential injury. Which would open the door for Ridder.

Ineffectiveness by Mariota or the team also could get Ridder on the field. The Falcons have had a hard time filling up their new stadium. A rookie who plugs in and plays well could be just what the Falcons need, in more ways that one.

That said, Mariota has had some good performances during his time in the league. While it has never happened on a consistent basis — and even though his last stint with Falcons coach Arthur Smith resulted in a Tennessee benching — Mariota appears to be firmly on track to get the first crack at running the show for the post-Matt Ryan Falcons.