Marcus Mariota: Falcons’ coaching staff challenges quarterbacks mentally

Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota has been in the NFL for seven years, but he’s learned a lot in just a few months in Atlanta.

Mariota said Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and his staff are constantly challenging the quarterbacks to improve their mental approach to the game.

“I think they challenge us,” Mariota said, via the team’s website. “They want us to understand why we run certain concepts, what coverages we’re running against. For us, it’s mentally stimulating because it’s challenging to look at it from different perspective. I think what’s really cool about Art and this staff is that they try to stimulate your mind constantly. There’s always brand new ideas. There’s always something that we always talk about. So, for me, I enjoy that part of it.”

Smith said he views his role working with quarterbacks as that of a teacher trying to make sure his students have a thorough understanding of the subject matter.

“Our job as a coach, you’re really a teacher,” Smith said. “Ultimately, they’re the ones that are out there on the field so we are trying to educate them and understand so we’re in sync.”

It’s going to be a major challenge for the Falcons to win this year, after saying goodbye to Matt Ryan, replacing him with Mariota, and dealing with the lasting effects of always kicking the salary cap can down the road.