Arthur Smith praised for letting Desmond Ridder air it out in Week 5

NFL: SEP 17 Packers at Falcons

The Falcons’ offensive performance against the Texans was the most impressive to date with Desmond Ridder under center. Atlanta leaned on the passing game, resulting in Ridder setting career-high marks in completions, yards, and completion percentage.

It was the first time since Ridder took over the starting job where the passing concepts weren’t directly built off the running game via play action. Ridder stood in the pocket for the most part and drove the ball into tight windows. It’s a testament to Ridder but also his head coach and offensive play caller. Arthur Smith is garnering praise from The Athletic for airing it out against Houston.

The Atlanta Falcons should have played Desmond Ridder earlier last season when it was clear Marcus Mariota was not the answer. Ridder started his first game in Week 14 last season and played in only four games. The Falcons should have given Ridder more games to find out about him and give him more experience, but they did end up committing to him in the offseason. Ridder was playing some terrible ball in the first four weeks of the season and there was some talk about potentially benching him for veteran Taylor Heinicke. Yes, even I was among the voices calling for a potential benching of Ridder.

This piece comes from Ted Nguyn, who ironically called for Ridder to be benched last week. He didn’t frame it as a suggestion, though; Nguyn demanded the Falcons turn to Taylor Heinicke, essentially calling Ridder unsalvagable. It’s always hilarious to see national pundits take such strong stances and then immediately be proven wrong. It’s easy to sit on our couch and make decisions while not having to deal with the consequences. Credit to Nguyn for admitting his overzealous take.

I just thought the Falcons had too much talent for Ridder to sink them, but to Arthur Smith’s credit, he voiced his confidence in Ridder this week and stuck with him. In the ninth start of his career, it looks like the switch may have finally turned on for Ridder. He made some legit big-boy throws downfield into tight windows against the Houston Texans. These weren’t just schemed-up, wide-open throws and he had a couple of perfect passes dropped. Ridder was fantastic. He averaged 8.2 air yards per target and completed 75.7 percent of his passes on 37 attempts. But most importantly, with 1:49 remaining, he led the offense downfield for a game-winning field goal.

To Nguyn’s defense, this was by far the best game of Ridder’s young career. He looked decisive, aggressive and accurate; none of which he had shown before. Consistency in this league is paramount, but Desmond Ridder is coming off the best game of his career. It’s encouraging. If a switch has flipped for him, Arthur Smith deserves a lot of the credit.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire




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