Looking across the league Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is far from the only one to make the decision to rest his starters. While this is completely understandable for established veterans or his running backs it is fair to question the reasoning with quarterback Desmond Ridder.
Desmond is coming off of a 2022 season where the rookie made four starts and finished 2-2 on the year. Ridder was given the starting job this off-season not forced to go through a quarterback competition with Taylor Heinicke.
Atlanta clearly strongly believes in Desmond and the value in practice reps throughout the off-season and camp. Clearly, these are of high importance but there is obviously an upgrade in the speed of the game in the preseason before taking another huge leap in week one.
Obviously, the team has far more information and insight into making this decision. However, from a fan's perspective watching Ridder play less during the preseason than former MVPs and proven veterans is head-scratching.
From the outside looking in it is easy to point out that Ridder would seemingly greatly benefit from having more reps in these practice games. Even if it is a vanilla offense and simply a possession or two offering your unproven quarterback more snaps would only help his growth one could surmise.
Desmond has clearly been set up for success in an offense that is often going to be simply handing the ball to Bijan Robinson or Tyler Allgeier and letting the big men up front do the work. Still, this is the NFL and even in Arthur Smith's system, you need a quarterback to rely on consistently.
Atlanta fans learned this the hard way last season watching a scrappy team with a great rushing attack that simply was hurt by Marcus Mariota continually.
This isn't to say that if Desmond Ridder fails it has anything to do with meaningless preseason action but rather to suggest that even veteran quarterbacks that start slow have referenced rust and the desire to play in the preseason.
As ugly as the games may often be they do have value apart from the obvious depth chart battles we watch play out every season. Offense is all about chemistry and rhythm in particular at the quarterback position.
Ridder needs every chance possible to build both of these things as well as confidence heading into a season in which a lot of sports media and a portion of his own fanbase have already written him off. Arthur Smith has proven to be a solid head coach but when it comes to preseason management and his decisions at the quarterback position there are reasons for concern.