Falcons QB: Mariota in Good Hands with Mularkey, Robiskie


HOUSTON — Marcus Mariota is in good hands in Tennessee. That's according to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, and he should know.

Ryan, the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, was coached by Titans head coach Mike Mularkey and Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie at the start of his career with the Falcons. Mularkey was Atlanta's offensive coordinator from 2008-11, and Robiskie was the team's receivers coach from 2008-15 before joining the Titans last season.

"Both of those guys were a huge part of my development as a player,'' Ryan said Tuesday morning. "Mike was my first offensive coordinator, and we spent four years together, and I learned a ton from him about being a professional, about what it takes to be successful. Mike is one of the most detailed and organized people I have ever been around and he has remained a great friend to this day. He has been so supportive of me throughout my entire career.

"He means a lot to me. He is a great friend."

As for Robiskie, Ryan said he was a great influence as well.

"I spent seven years with Terry, and he was one of the most fun people to be around," Ryan said. "He keeps things light day in and day out. He is a great football coach, and I know our wide receivers learned a lot from him. Guys that I played with played as well as they did because he coached them up. He brings a lot of toughness to that position, and I think you've seen that in Tennessee this year. He'll get his guys to play hard and to play physical and he is an excellent motivator."

Ryan, a candidate for the league's Most Valuable Player award in 2016, has the Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Sunday against the Patriots. He threw for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns during the regular season.

Ryan said he's been impressed with Mariota, and he predicted good things with his pairing Mularkey and Robiskie.

Mariota completed 276-of-451 passes for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 95.6 passer rating in 2016 before suffering a fractured fibula in Week 16 contest at Jacksonville. He added 60 rushing attempts for 349 yards and two touchdowns in 2016.

Mariota's 95.6 passer rating ranks third in franchise history for a single season, behind only Warren Moon's 96.8 in 1990, when he was the Associ­ated Press Offensive Player of the Year, and Steve McNair's 100.4 in 2003, when he was the NFL's Co-MVP.

"I think Mike will do a great job with Marcus,'' Ryan said. "Marcus is a great player, a really young guy who has done a lot of really good things in his first couple of years. I think Mike and Terry will be great for Marcus."

While Mularkey, Robiskie and Ryan were together with the Falcons, the team advanced to the postseason three times in four years, ranked ninth in the NFL in total yards (354.8 per game), seventh in points (24.5), eighth in rushing yards (125.7), third in fewest turnovers (84), fourth in fewest sacks allowed (93), and sixth in third down conversions (44.2).

In three of the four years with the Falcons, Mularkey's offense produced a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. In 2010, Sporting News named Mularkey "Coordinator of the Year."

Mularkey said he sees some similarities between Ryan and Mariota.

"I have seen the growth of what he has done, and he has gotten better every year, and that is what you want that position to do,'' Mularkey said. "You knew early on that Matt had the ability to be a very good quarterback in this league, which I do with Marcus. It's the same thing with Matt.

"I thought what is happening with Matt right now would happen -- that he would be in a Super Bowl. And I think the same thing, eventually, Marcus has that ability if he continues to work like he does, like Matt does. Both those guys are workaholics – Matt and Marcus both want to be great."

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