The Atlanta Falcons were officially eliminated from playoff contention in week 16 in a 9-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, Falcons fans on social media have been debating what the team should do regarding the QB1 position in the 2023 season. Desmond Ridder’s first NFL start came in week 15 versus the New Orleans Saints. Marcus Mariota had been benched after the team went 5-8.
Many Falcons fans had not seen Ridder play college football at the University of Cincinnati. Seeing Ridder in action for most came in the first preseason game when the Falcons played the Detroit Lions. Ridder impressed by going 10/22 for 103 yards for 2 touchdowns. Late in the 4th quarter on a 4th down and 9, Ridder rolled out of the pocket and threw to Jared Bernhardt in the end zone. The Falcons won 27-23 a clutch moment that has stuck with many fans despite it happening in preseason action.
Ridder did not have the same good fortune in his regular-season debut. He went 13/26 for 97 yards in an 18-21 versus the New Orleans Saints. Despite the loss and a less-than-stellar showing in his first regular season game, many Falcons fans gave Ridder a pass. Starting on the road in a hostile environment wasn’t ideal.
He improved in his second start, which was also on the road, versus the Baltimore Ravens by going 22/33 for 218 yards. However, the Falcons were only able to generate three field goals in a 9-17 loss.
Ridder’s first regular season home start came in week 17 versus the Arizona Cardinals. He went 19/26 for 169 yards in a 20-19 win. The season finale was versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A 30-17 win with 19/30 for 224 yards is how Ridder’s rookie season ended. The Falcons went 2-2 with Ridder starting and ended the season with a 7-10 record placing 4th in the NFC South.
With a four-game sample size to go by, is Ridder the franchise QB?
Some Falcons fans feel like four games aren’t enough to accurately access him and that he should be given a full season to play before that determination is made. Others contend that there is no time to waste and that the Falcons should move on from him now. Brock Purdy’s rookie success in San Francisco lead to comparisons that Ridder wasn’t good enough out of the gate to be the franchise QB.
Adding to the mix is speculation that the Atlanta Falcons could potentially be a trade partner with the Baltimore Ravens for Lamar Jackson’s QB services. Some Falcons fans want to go all in for Jackson if Baltimore decides to trade him. Other Falcons fans say the cost and draft capital to get Jackson will be too much.
In recent press conferences, GM Terry Fontenot has spoken highly of Ridder but has not definitively stated that he will be QB1 for the 2023 season.
Many Falcons fans were surprised in 2022 when the team entered the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. Some believe if given the opportunity, the team will attempt a bold move like this again. At 80 years old, Arthur Blank has only seen one of the teams he owns hoist a championship trophy. Atlanta United won the MLS Cup in 2018. He has stated publicly that he would love to see the Falcons win a Super Bowl in his lifetime.
To make that a reality, the play of the Atlanta Falcons QB1 will be instrumental. NFL fans all over the globe watched great offensive performances from Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes in SB LVII. In the passing game, Hurts went 27/38 for 304 yards. Mahomes went 21/27 for 182 yards. Some sports commentators have said that Atlanta’s franchise QB is not currently on the roster.
So while Falcons fans wait to see what the team decides regarding Ridder, we know that the team has not had a winning record since the 2017/2018 season.
The frustration of losing has started to pile up as evidenced by the empty seats in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Some think adding Lamar Jackson as QB1 will immediately be a boost to ticket sales. No matter who ultimately ends up being the starting QB for the Falcons, getting back to winning is the priority. Falcons fans want the team to be back in the NFL conversation of being playoff contenders.