Marcus Mariota is lined up to be the new starting quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons following the franchise's decision to trade veteran Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts, and the 2015 second overall pick knows he has "big shoes to fill."
Mariota told reporters Friday:
"Those are big shoes to fill, no doubt. I think, for me, something I definitely learned over the course of my career is that you can't compare yourself to other people. What Matt did here, what he's accomplished here, is truly greatness, and for me, I just have to kind of carve my own path.
"I appreciate what he's done, appreciate what he's been for this organization, and the best thing that I can do is try to put my best foot forward and be the best player that I can be."
Ryan spent his entire career with the Falcons before being traded to Indianapolis. Atlanta selected the Boston College product third overall in the 2008 NFL draft, and he earned four Pro Bowl selections in 14 seasons.
The 36-year-old led the Falcons to the postseason six times, including a Super Bowl berth in 2017.
Ryan completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 59,735 yards and 367 touchdowns against 170 interceptions. The 2021 season was his first of less than 4,000 passing yards since 2010, his third year in the league.
Mariota, meanwhile, served as the Tennessee Titans' starting quarterback for four-plus seasons before becoming a free agent after the 2019 campaign.
He signed a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders to serve as Derek Carr's backup and played there for two years. This offseason, the 28-year-old had been mentioned as a potential 2022 starter given all the teams that needed quarterbacks after the 2021 season.
In five seasons with the Titans, Mariota completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 13,207 yards and 76 touchdowns against 44 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,399 yards and 11 scores.
The Oregon product was labeled as a draft bust because of his inconsistency, but he had two different head coaches over his first three seasons in the league and four different offensive coordinators in five seasons.
In addition, Mariota struggled with injuries through his career in Tennessee, including a sprained MCL, a broken fibula, a hamstring injury and an elbow injury.
While Mariota appears to be Ryan's successor, the Falcons could also draft a quarterback this year. With Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder and Kenny Pickett available, the franchise has some interesting options.