Atlanta Falcons: Will Desmond Ridder start week one?
By Nick Halden
Atlanta Falcons fans won’t get their first look at rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder for more than a month leaving plenty of questions as to just how good Ridder will be in year one? Will the team be willing to start Ridder in week one or give the rookie time to learn and develop?
Unless Marcus Mariota really struggles in camp or pre-season it would be shocking to see the Falcons start Ridder in week one. Every indication from Arthur Smith and Atlanta’s off-season point to Mariota being given the starting job when the season kicks off in week one.
Desmond Ridder would have to be head and shoulders above Mariota in pre-season to have a chance of starting in week one. Ridder will likely only be inserted into the lineup if Mariota is injured or when the team is struggling.
The clearest path to Ridder starting is in week eight when the Falcons play the Carolina Panthers at home. This starts Atlanta’s easiest stretch of games and would give Atlanta ten games to watch Desmond Ridder. By week eight it seems likely Mariota and the Falcons will be struggling and have fallen out of any wildcard contention leaving the season as a means to evaluate the team’s future.
Starting Desmond in week one isn’t likely to happen due to the fact Ridder is a third-round pick and Arthur Smith appears to want to give Mariota a second chance at running his offense. Starting Marcus Mariota is the right decision for a team who wants to at least attempt to contend early on this season.
Giving Mariota a few weeks to start while letting Ridder learn and catch up to game speed at the next level is the best decision. Ridder should start for the Falcons this season so the team has a chance to decide if they need to chase a quarterback next off-season. However, that chance should be in the best circumstances setting Ridder up for success. Starting him in week one is a disservice to Ridder and the rest of the roster, Mariota should be the starter week one against the Saints.