Desmond Ridder is the new Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback and will have an immediate chance to win over the Atlanta fanbase. After watching weeks of Mariota struggle Ridder will get his first start against the hated New Orleans Saints. Even if Ridder plays at an average level if he is able to lead Atlanta to a win over New Orleans there will be an immediate admiration for the rookie.
Starting Ridder was the right decision, however, it is one that could haunt Arthur Smith. The Atlanta Falcons had a true chance at winning the NFC South and hosting a playoff game for the first time in half a decade.
Atlanta has dropped four of their last five games in three of those losses Atlanta simply needed to get to twenty points to win or force overtime. Perhaps the 25-15 loss to the rebuilding Panthers is the most egregious game in which Mariota looked completely lost and inept and yet continued to be sent out as the starting quarterback.
Arthur Smith has been great for Atlanta and is turning around a franchise that has been unable to recover from its infamous Super Bowl appearance. However, if Ridder takes over and resembles anything close to a capable quarterback there is an argument to be made that Smith cost the Falcons a playoff spot by not putting him into the starting lineup sooner.
The Panthers and Saints are both a mess and the Bucs are just no starting to figure things out climbing to .500 on the season. Atlanta had a chance to take advantage of a weak division and while Ridder deserve his chance against the Saints it could serve as a reminder of what Atlanta could have had much earlier this season.
Atlanta will close out the year facing the Saints, Ravens, Cardinals, and Bucs certainly giving Ridder a tough test in the final four weeks of the season.