For the first time this season, Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith cracked the door open for a potential quarterback change.
"It's a unique time," Smith said following Sunday's 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. "We're about to go into the bye. We'll evaluate everything. Every job is open."
Even as fans have clamored to see rookie Desmond Ridder replace Marcus Mariota, Smith has continually dismissed the idea of a QB change. However, sitting at 5-8 following Sunday's loss, the Falcons could take the bye week to give Ridder a chance.
Smith underscored that the issues this season aren't just about the quarterback.
"Like I said, everything is on the table," Smith said. "We've got this late bye. We've got a quarter of the season left. We'll come in tomorrow and talk as a staff this week. Like I said, every option's on the table."
Mariota has played every snap this season for the only team that has yet to surpass 250 yards passing in 13 games. In 2022, having an inept passing attack week after week isn't acceptable. Surely, Ridder couldn't be worse, right?
In Sunday's loss, Mariota completed 13 of 24 passes for 167 yards with one touchdown and a game-sealing interception.
While Mariota's ability to run aids the Falcons' ground game, the QB consistently misses too many easy throws to pressure defenses.
"That's not necessarily where my mind's at," Mariota said. "I'm still trying to reflect on what happened in the game. At the end of the day, they've got to make a decision as to what's best for the team and whatever happens happens, but I'm not really thinking about that right now."
Even with Sunday's loss, the Falcons aren't out of the race for the NFC South title, which could color Smith's decision to test-drive the rookie.