3 Ways the Atlanta Falcons could become surprise contenders this season
By Nick Halden
1. Desmond Ridder becomes the face of the Atlanta Falcons franchise
Marcus Mariota wasn’t given the best roster with the Titans and lost his job to Ryan Tannehill just as the team was making moves to contend. Having watched last season’s performance it is hard to argue Mariota couldn’t have been just as effective in Tennessee if he had been given the chance with the rosters and schemes Tannehill was given.
Despite this Mariota is now on his third team and being given a chance to be a bridge starter. At his best Mariota is a mid-level starter capable of helping a team reach the playoffs. He isn’t a player who is going to elevate a bad roster or carry those around him.
If Atlanta is going to become a surprise wildcard contender this season it will be with Desmond Ridder at the helm, not Marcus Mariota. With Mariota the Falcons are a watchable rebuilding team headed home at the end of the regular season.
Desmond Ridder is the wildcard who could change that if he is able to translate his potential to the next level. Ridder is a dynamic athlete who should be given a chance in pre-season to win the starting job. Even if he is unable to win the job in week one the team should give him a chance in week eight against the Panthers if Atlanta has fallen out of contention. It is by far Atlanta’s easiest stretch of games and would give Ridder ten games to pull Atlanta back to relevance or show he isn’t the long-term answer.