Earlier in the present day, we discovered that the Atlanta Falcons are beginning Desmond Ridder at quarterback once more, going again to their Week 1 anointed starter. After a halftime benching full with a concussion test in opposition to the Tennessee Titans and a pair of begins for Taylor Heinicke, the now 4-6 Falcons will hope that Ridder might help them salvage an more and more misplaced season the place the group is falling effectively wanting expectations.
We’ll see if they will persist with the choice or not, but it surely’s value diving into why that is taking place, to one of the best of our capacity to determine that out.
Why are the Falcons going again to Ridder?
If you happen to actually imagine in a participant, you usually don’t bench him, particularly for a number of video games. But the Falcons and Arthur Smith have at the very least paid lip service to the concept that Ridder remains to be the man, and that the couple of weeks with Heinicke on the helm didn’t change that. NFL insiders positioned it as a “relaxation” or “reset,” with Arthur Smith refusing to light up a lot in current weeks, citing a need to guard his gamers.
From what’s being reported, the state of affairs was easy: Give Ridder an opportunity to kind himself out after weeks of alarming turnover numbers, see if Heinicke might go on the type of beautiful run that begged the group to maintain him within the beginning job, and failing that, return to Ridder after the bye. Smith instructed us that the Falcons would select a starter for the remainder of the season through the bye, and now that call is made.
From what I am instructed, the Falcons believed the majority of Ridder’s errors had been correctable & felt he had a whole lot of studying to do. A transfer again to him was at all times deliberate except Taylor Heinicke went on a ridiculous run. It wasn’t like they fell out of affection with Ridder. Wanted a reset. https://t.co/jNF4EZVsWs
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) November 19, 2023
The Falcons went again to Ridder partially as a result of Heinicke didn’t flourish because the starter. In Week 8 in opposition to the Titans, he supplied a pleasant spark for the offense. Throughout stretches in opposition to Minnesota and Arizona, Heinicke threw crisp passes, evaded strain successfully, and scrambled for robust yardage, but it surely was an inconsistent run not helped by the group’s ultra-conservative gameplan in opposition to the Cardinals. With Heinicke additionally injured in opposition to the Cardinals, there most likely wasn’t a lot in the way in which of questions inside Flowery Department about making the change again to Ridder, even when there are many questions externally.
The opposite piece, once more, is the seeming perception in Ridder. It is a group that made him the unquestioned starter within the spring, caught with it in the summertime, and stood by him in no unsure phrases regardless of the rash of turnovers…proper up till the benching. The Falcons genuinely like Ridder, and whereas that isn’t going to stop them from going out and getting one other quarterback this coming offseason if he doesn’t actually blossom over the ultimate seven weeks, it was evident in the way in which they approached this season.
It appears ridiculous to say that Ridder was strong from, say, Weeks 5-7 in the event you take away the turnovers, but it surely’s clearly what the Falcons are taking a look at. The tempo of turnovers was unacceptable and would doom the Falcons if it continued, however they clearly assume somewhat time without work will get Ridder to eradicate a few of these, bringing the elements of his sport they like (the growing confidence in his capacity to make performs together with his legs, the sharp stretches of passing) to the fore and hopefully ironing out the accuracy and decision-making hiccups.
They’ll return to him partially due to the organizational perception in him and partly as a result of he’s the one quarterback with any hope of creating the remainder of the way in which; the truth that he was younger and taking his lumps in real-time was one of the best argument in opposition to benching him within the first place. A participant with 12 profession begins can determine issues out if the expertise and resilience is there—we’ve seen gamers with many extra begins discover one other gear—and Ridder stays younger and in his second NFL season. It’s clear the group doesn’t assume a 30-year-old Heinicke, who showcased all the identical points which have bogged him down previously in between these stretches of funslinging (not a typo) and playmaking, goes to seek out that gear.
Atlanta will hope there are strides, in different phrases, and that these strides mix with any bye week changes they’ve made to raise this group out of their lengthy stretch of mediocrity. The Falcons have misplaced their final three video games, have gone 2-6 since their 2-0 begin, and have been unable to get all of it discovered on offense. If Ridder can present that raise ultimately, Atlanta’s still-easy schedule and weak division present some hope they will salvage the season.
Will that really occur? It will be tough to wager on that, given this group’s current fortunes and simply how pronounced Ridder’s turnover downside was earlier than he was benched. The Falcons are nonetheless doing so, and provided that Ridder really being the caliber of participant the group desires him to be could be an ideal consequence for them, we’ll hope so even when we don’t anticipate so.
Will it final the season?
As Matthew Chambers mentioned in his article earlier in the present day, that’s actually anybody’s guess.
The Falcons intend to maintain Ridder beneath middle, however he has already been benched as soon as, and if he performs poorly within the subsequent couple of weeks the group might be tempted to return to Heinicke looking for that elusive spark. Desperation in a misplaced season, particularly a season the place the Falcons had been anticipated to contend for a playoff berth, might present strain to make a change again even when the group doesn’t actually wish to.
That mentioned, whereas Heinicke did high quality for probably the most half whereas filling in, he didn’t stand head and shoulders above what the Falcons had been getting from Ridder and so they misplaced his begins. That’s not truthful to pin solely and even totally on Heinicke, however the information that he’s unlikely to have the ability to begin for a number of weeks and raise the offense to new heights will possible give Ridder an extended leash.
If Ridder performs effectively and the Falcons re-enter the playoff hunt within the NFC, the group will return to bristling on the considered parking him, and the drama will subside till the offseason.
What occurs if it doesn’t work?
I thought of this in my current article concerning the quarterback state of affairs, however the brief reply is that the season possible ends in disappointing trend, Arthur Smith goes into 2024 on the new seat if he stays the pinnacle coach, and the Falcons look to exchange Ridder through commerce, free company, or (ideally) the draft.
For a season so many people had been genuinely enthusiastic about, that might be a horrendous consequence, and the reviews that Smith would retain his job means there’s not prone to be huge organizational adjustments to comply with it. It will be onerous to think about that Ridder sticking within the job if this falls aside any additional, both manner.
The Falcons put themselves able the place Ridder had to be strong to win this season, an expectation that didn’t appear unreasonable however proved to be thanks largely to the backbreaking, repeated interceptions and fumbles from the younger quarterback. After a reset, a relaxation, a benching, or no matter else you wish to name it, the group is again to that very same spot. That is their final likelihood to salvage the 2023 season’s once-considerable promise and for Ridder to show he belongs because the beginning quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, and with their backs effectively and actually in opposition to the wall, we’ll see how group and participant actually reply to adversity beginning in Week 12 in opposition to the Saints.