Michael Vick believes Marcus Mariota is the Falcons’ best option

FLOWERY BRANCH — Former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick believes the team’s best option at quarterback is Marcus Mariota as they are rebuilding in the 2022 season.

“I think it’s definitely Marcus’ job,” Vick said Wednesday. “Marcus should be the starter. I would think he would be the starter. Desmond (Ridder) would have to do some amazing things to overcome that.”

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The Falcons have to replace Matt Ryan, who was traded. Mariota was signed in free agency, and Ridder was drafted in the third round of the NFL draft.

Mariota has a 29-32 record as a starter and has won a playoff game. Ridder should use his time wisely.

“But at the same time, he’s (getting) to sit back and learn from a veteran who has had a lot of experience, a ton of experience,” Vick said. “He can just navigate the season with no pressure. I think that’s extremely important for a young rookie. With Marcus at the helm, this team should be in good shape on offense.”

Vick likes that Mariota is a dual-threat quarterback.

“He can bring some different elements to the table,” Vick said. “I think they got to appreciate that and use that correctly.”

Vick acknowledged that he hasn’t watched a lot of Ridder, who was 44-6 as a starter at Cincinnati.

“I’ll tell you a lot of young quarterbacks come into this league a lot more game-ready than back when I started out,” Vick said. “So, if he’s soaking it all in every day and probably most importantly making mistakes and learning from them, even vicariously learning when he’s stepping back to watch, I think that’s most important in the game of football. Then the speed, he’ll catch up to that.”

In 2001, Vick was the first Black quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft. He played for the Falcons from 2001-06, but he went to jail on federal dogfighting charges.

He resurrected his career with Philadelphia from 2009-13 after missing two seasons. He also played with the Jets (2014) and Steelers (2015). He’s currently an NFL analyst on Fox.

“It certainly feels different coming through the gates, a lot less pressure,” Vick said. “I’m not coming in to go out and try to execute a third-down period or a red zone. It’s always amazing to come and see the guys.”

Vick liked the hustle he saw from the current Falcons.

“The young guys out there busting it and getting to it,” Vick said. “They are trying to become great at what they’re doing. Trying to set an example in their own right. I appreciate that part, and I respect it. That makes it even more special to be here.”

Vick is enjoying his TV role.

“I’m growing into my role,” Vick said. “I’m understanding it now. I know how to prepare for it.”

Vick believes the Falcons can experiment more because they are rebuilding.

“When you have got the talent, you believe in your talent, believe in your scheme. You put them out there, and you let them go,” Vick said. “Football is trial and error. You have got to learn from the mistakes and pick up the pieces when you failed, have more good happen than bad.”

Vick did reflect on coming back to Flowery Branch and walking on the grounds where he once dazzled in practice.

“I haven’t been here in a while because I know that’s new right there,” Vick said while pointing to a building. “But to walk (through) these doors, man, it brings back so many memories. I walked in with a lot less pressure. Probably the hardest thing I’ve done today is this interview with multiple people, multiple cameras, but it is so refreshing to be around football and to be around coaches who are speaking the game and talking about it.”

Vick, 42, enjoys being around the sport.

“I miss football, for sure,” Vick said. “I definitely miss it. But I get my fix. I get my fix when I get to come to the training camps and especially when I get to analyze it on a weekly basis. Break down film.”

There’s one part of football that Vick doesn’t miss.

“I don’t miss getting hit,” Vick said. “I did like to get hit when I played, so it’s just the exact opposite. We should all expect that 20 years later, for sure.”

Vick’s style of play helped change the landscape at quarterback.

“The game is always going to evolve,” Vick said. “I probably would have been dynamic in the offense that maybe Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson are running today. Who knows? Maybe I could sustain it, maybe I couldn’t.”

He’s proud to see those quarterbacks who have followed in his footsteps.

“I came up in my time and my era, and that’s just what it was,” Vick said. “It’s just great to see those guys continue to carry the torch and play the game at a high level being ultimately dual threats. Whether if it’s being passer first or runners second. However it may come, it’s about moving the chains.”

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