Early on Sunday morning, news reports came out that the Atlanta Falcons would move Desmond Ridder back into the starting quarterback position after their bye week. Although the news isn’t shocking considering coach Arthur Smith’s constant support of Ridder, it comes off as irrational after the team’s performance so far this season.
Since beginning his career in Atlanta, Ridder has only thrown 8 touchdowns while adding six interceptions and losing 3 fumbles. His grasp of the offense has been minimal at best with a passer rating below 85, a QBR of less than 41 this year, and has already taken 34 career sacks in only 13 games.
The team has stuck by him through some truly terrible performances, but for the fans, it shows a lack of direction both in the short and long term. When the team made the switch to backup Taylor Heinicke, there seemed to be a universal agreement that the Ridder experiment was over and that the Falcons would push for a new quarterback in 2024.
Pivoting back to Ridder at this point seemingly indicates that the team likely still considers him a part of their long-term plan. The most rational explanation for this seems to be that Smith hopes Ridder plays well over the next few weeks, he keeps his job going into 2024, and the team continues this roller coaster ride for another season.
The biggest frustration with playing Ridder (and Smith’s offense) is the talent being wasted on the rest of their offensive pieces. Drake London and Kyle Pitts cannot flourish with such an inconsistent passer, and Smith doesn’t seem to know how to properly use running backs, Bijan Robinson or Tyler Allgeier.
If the Falcons want to punt on this year and hope for the best next season, that’s fine, but they’re going to be having this same conversation in the off-season if they plan to upgrade at the quarterback position. The free-agency pool and trade market aren’t overly strong, and the team may be putting blind faith behind another option that could let them down.
Does the thought of Josh Dobbs excite anyone? How about Baker Mayfield or Tyrod Taylor? There were talks about Kirk Cousins joining the team, but is investing in a 35-year-old quarterback coming off a major injury the best team-building approach? Ryan Tannehill has been linked to the Falcons since Smith took over, but he looks washed and is just as old as Cousins.
The draft prospects this year will either be taken too early for the Falcons (Caleb Williams/Drake Maye), have injury concerns (Michael Penix Jr.), or guys who seem like their peak will be their last year in college (Bo Nix/J.J McCarthy).
It’s truly impossible to know if the Falcons did research on someone like Lamar Jackson this past offseason, but after seeing Ridder play this season, it’s obvious that the team was misguided in thinking he could lead them to the playoffs. At this point, he’ll likely just be leading to a new coaching regime and another offseason of questions for the team.