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Arthur Smith didn’t consider benching Marcus Mariota, won’t say who starts next week

From Jeff Saturday making his NFL head coaching debut against the Raiders to Mike McCarthy back in Green Bay, Mike Florio and Chris Simms outline key matchups for Week 10.

Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota played an ugly game on Thursday night, but he was never in danger of being benched.

That’s the word from Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who said after the game that he never considered turning to rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder.

However, Smith would not say definitively that Mariota will remain the starter for the Falcons’ next game, November 20 against the Bears.

“I know those are popular narratives, those are the easy questions to ask,” Smith said. “But as a whole football team, we’ve got to do a better job, starting with myself. So, we look every week to make sure we’ve got the right guys in the right spots.”

When asked a follow-up question about whether Mariota or Ridder will go, Smith declined to focus specifically on the quarterback position.

“You can make it about the quarterback, how about the team?” Smith said. “We had an opportunity at the end of the fourth quarter the last two weeks, and a lot of different ways, and a lot of different phases where we’ve got to get better. And we’ve got an opportunity to do that with seven games left.”

The Falcons do have an opportunity to make the playoffs, thanks to the overall weakness of the NFC South. But they’re not going to win much if Mariota keeps playing like he did on Thursday night.