Arthur Smith has continued to insert Marcus Mariota into the Atlanta Falcons‘ starting lineup using the fact that the team was in contention for the division lead. After two straight ugly losses to bad teams and a clutch win from Tampa Bay against New Orleans the division race is over.
While the Falcons haven’t technically been eliminated the math is simple. With four games left the math is simple, the Falcons need to win out and need the Bucs to drop three of their last five games to be able to reasonably claim the division title. While there are easier scenarios to the Falcons winning the division that is the most straight forward and point to what Atlanta fans are well aware of, this team let an opportunity slip away.
With the division now in Tampa’s hands Arthur Smith has no excuse left not to put Desmond Ridder into the starting lineup. It lines up perfectly to give Ridder a full week to transition into the starters role and ready himself for the Saints a week from Sunday.
Four games is enough time for the Falcons to fully scout Ridder and decide whether to head into the 2023 season with him locked in as the starter. With what appears to be a top-ten pick and plenty of cap space the Falcons will be able to chase a quarterback if they don’t believe Ridder is their guy after four games.
It would be a huge waste of a season not to get a look at Ridder spending a year of his rookie contract to start a veteran in Mariota who is only pushing the Falcons further away from contention. Brady’s clutch win over the Saints left the Falcons and Arthur Smith with no more excuses it is time to put Desmond Ridder into the starting lineup.