Desmond Ridder has all he needs to succeed with Falcons

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When Arthur Smith took over in Atlanta, the Falcons were an aging roster that lacked the talent necessary to compete seriously. In his third season, there are bigger expectations than ever.

After configuring teams with one hand tied behind their backs due to salary cap restrictions, Smith and Terry Fontenot have assembled by far the most complete roster in their tenures.

The biggest difference comes on the defensive side of the ball, with wholesale changes coming at all three levels. The secondary underwent a significant makeover, with Jessie Bates III being the gem of the free agent class. He is joined by Mike Hughes and Jeff Okudah to solidify the backend. Kaden Elliss, Lorenzo Carter, and Bud Dupree were added to the second level, but the most notable difference comes across the defensive line.

For the first time in quite a while, the Falcons have a healthy rotation of defenders in the trenches. Grady Jarrett and Ta’Quon Graham are joined by David Onyemata, Calais Campbell, and Eddie Goldman. It’s by far the deepest and most talented group in Jarrett’s Falcons career. But that’s not all, the offense is equally equipped for success in 2023.

The offensive line is returning four of five starters, and second-round pick Matthew Bergeron is primed to assume the left guard position. That kind of continuity cannot be understated; it’s an incredibly important and consistent facet of successful offensive lines. Moreover, there might not be a more talented group of skill-position players in the league.

Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson, and the recently drafted Bijan Robinson form the best skill group Atlanta has seen since the club went to the Super Bowl more than 5 years ago.

This is an infinitely better roster than anything Arthur Smith has had to work with in his tenure. There is one key difference — the quarterback position. As mentioned before, this is the third signal caller in as many seasons for Smith, but Desmond Ridder is set up for success more so than Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota.

If Ridder cannot succeed in this situation, there aren’t many others he would. He has ample support on both sides of the ball to lead the Falcons to the playoffs. Given the state of the NFC South, it’s certainly in the realm of possibilities that Desmond Ridder delivers a home playoff game for the first time since 2017.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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