Falcons’ Mariota and Seahawks’ Smith on similar NFL paths

Marcus Mariota and Geno Smith live similar NFL lives. Both have been jettisoned and discarded in the past and are currently in conversion mode with franchises.

SEATTLE (AP) — Marcus Mariota and Geno Smith live similar NFL lives these days.

Both have been dropped and discarded by other teams in the past. Both are currently in a kind of conversion at franchise companies.

And both are trying to prove they’re more than makeshifts until either the Atlanta Falcons or the Seattle Seahawks present themselves with the next opportunity to draft a young quarterback with the label of being the next face of the franchise.

An early examination of where everyone stands in this process comes Sunday when the Seahawks host the Falcons.

And both Seattle coach Pete Carroll and Atlanta coach Arthur Smith believe the quarterbacks, on the other hand, have been devalued at times during their respective careers.

“I’ve always liked him. I’ve always liked his athleticism and running skills,” Carroll said of Mariota. “He was always good at doing a little bit of everything. He can even throw the ball. He kind of got tangled up in a backup role. He looks like a starter to me.”

Mariota started off strong, even though the Falcons are 2-0 with two close losses to New Orleans and the Los Angeles Rams. Mariota threw for 215 yards and rushed for another 72 yards in the opener. In Week 2, the yards were down, but he threw a few touchdowns.

The problem for Mariota was sales. He lost a fumble in Week 1 and had two interceptions in the loss to the Rams.

“It’s really about all of us,” Smith said. “I know the quarterback is obviously going to draw attention, it’s the nature of the job and the nature of the business. There are many things where we have seen improvement and there are things that we need to do better.”

Smith is the league’s most accurate passer for two weeks, completing 81% of his shots. But many of these throws are short and safe. Last week, concerns about San Francisco’s passing rush led to a conservative game plan that kept the Seahawks’ offense neutral.

Carroll said this week it was time to lift all restrictions on how Smith and the offense worked.

“I give him a lot of credit, he’s a very resilient player, he’s playing really well at the moment and there’s a lot to say about that,” Smith said. “It’s not going like he probably envisioned when he was drafted and he comes back and keeps swinging. I have so much respect for guys like that and he’s playing really solid football for the Seahawks.”

LIFE ON THE WEST COAST

The Falcons stayed on the West Coast after their loss in Los Angeles and spent the week training in Seattle at the University of Washington. Smith saw the extended road trip as a major benefit, especially in the early stages of the season.

The Falcons did something similar in 2016 when they played Denver and then spent the week in Seattle before playing the Seahawks.

“Especially at the beginning of the season there are a lot of advantages. I think that’s about where we are at, the timing couldn’t be better if we use it right,” said Smith. “I am grateful that we are in an organization that allows you to do this and that the schedule worked out that way.”

RUN AWAY

Seattle’s offense should be carried by his running game, not Smith’s pass. So far the running game was missing. The Seahawks are bottom in the league averaging a meager 56 yards per game rushing through the first two weeks. Last week Seattle had just 36 rushing yards against the 49ers, only the sixth time in Carroll’s tenure that the Seahawks were held to less than 40 rushing yards. The Seahawks lost just 34 yards in Washington last season.

LONDON IS CALLING

Rookie wide receiver Drake London was Mariota’s favorite pick and showed why he was the No. 8 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. The former Southern California standout, London has at least five catches for 70 yards or more in his first two games. The only NFL player to reach those standards in his first three NFL games was Houston’s Andre Johnson in 2003.

London had eight catches for 83 yards and his first touchdown in last week’s loss to the Rams.

LINEBACKER DEPTH

The Falcons are developing good depth at the inside linebacker even with Deion Jones opening the season on injured reserve.

Rookie Troy Andersen showed his big play potential with his blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Lorenzo Carter last week.

Smith likes Mykal Carter in his third season as a starter alongside veteran Rashaan Evans. Expect the Falcons to continue finding ways to use Andersen’s quickness on special teams and certain defensive situations.

“We will continue to expand his role,” Smith said of Andersen, before adding, “but that’s no shot at anything Mykal Walker or Rashaan Evans did. Troy is a good football player and I think we’re putting him on the right path.”

Andersen (6-4, 235) was a second-round draft pick from Montana State, where he played linebacker, quarterback and running back.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/nfl/seahawks/falcons-mariota-and-seahawks-smith-on-similar-nfl-paths/281-4216369d-e1f5-453c-bbd1-039f5c3bd70d Falcons’ Mariota and Seahawks’ Smith on similar NFL paths

Emma Bowman

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