Coming out of Sunday’s loss to the Titans, the Falcons seemingly had a decision to make on a starting quarterback.
Desmond Ridder had a typical first half, throwing for 71 yards on 8-of-12 passing while running for 26 yards. He was sacked five times and lost another fumble. However, to the surprise of many, it wasn’t Ridder who came out in the third quarter.
It was Taylor Heinicke who was under center, and the offense responded. The veteran went 12-of-21 for 175 yards and a touchdown, running twice for 14 yards.
It was clear the Falcons were a better football team with Heinicke on the field, even Titans players admitted as much. The Falcons only mustered three points and 89 yards of offense in the first half compared to 20 points and 253 total yards in the second half.
Many fans were left with a bit of optimism, thinking Ridder’s time was done. It would be impossible for Arthur Smith to argue the Falcons were better with the third-round pick instead of the grizzled veteran, right? Wrong. Apparently, Ridder wasn’t benched for performance issues, according to Smith.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in Des,” Smith said. “We didn’t take him out for performance issues. That’s why Taylor’s here, to be able to come in as a backup and give us a shot… He was throwing the ball pretty well. We’ve got a lot of confidence, that’s why he’s our starter. We’ve got a lot we’ve got to figure out.”
Falcons fans better not hold their breath for a quarterback change because it’s clear the team is behind Desmond Ridder as the starter, not just his head coach.
“This is Desmond’s team. He’s played great throughout the year. Obviously a couple hiccups here and there, but he’s progressing every week, he’s working hard,” Taylor Heinicke added.
It’s impossible to deny the difference in the offense’s effectiveness with Heinicke compared to Ridder, but it’s clear that Arthur Smith has hitched his wagon to the third-round pick, for better or worse.
Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire