2. Start Desmond Ridder
Starting Desmond Ridder is as much about evaluating Ridder as it is sending Marcus Mariota to the bench. It seems clear he is a great teammate and a leader who is respected in the Atlanta locker room, however, there is the problem that he isn’t a starting NFL quarterback. Mariota is the worst type of starting quarterback in that he is a limited game manager who is also highly turnover prone.
You can have a gunslinger quarterback such as Josh Allen or Brett Farve who turn the ball over at a high rate while making plays to outweigh their mistakes. What you cannot have is a turnover-prone quarterback who at times is incapable of completing college-level throws.
It is time to bench Mariota and give Ridder four games to prove whether or not he is talented enough to head into next season as the Atlanta starter. With plenty of picks and cap space, the Falcons need to know whether they should be chasing the most important position on the field this off-season. It is time for Smith to put his loyalty to Mariota to the side and start Desmond Ridder.