Coming into the season, the talk around Atlanta was about how diverse and effective the Falcons’ offensive attack was going to be. The system and supporting cast were in place; all Desmond Ridder had to do was come in and be a little better than Marcus Mariota, and the offense would be among the league’s best. It’s been anything but.
Ridder is coming off arguably the worst start of his career in London, completing only 19 of 31 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. According to The Athletic, that was the worst EPA rate of his career, which broke the worst mark that he set just the week prior.
His -0.51 EPA rate against the Jaguars in Week 4 came after a -0.32 rate in a Week 3 loss to the Lions. The offense scored 13 total points in that period, six in Week 3 and seven points in Week 4.
On the season, Ridder has a 62.2% completion rate, a 6.3 yards per attempt average and only three touchdowns against three picks. He’s also taken a sack on a sky-high 11.9% of his dropbacks, according to Tru Media.
We can point to the offensive line’s struggles as a reason for that insane sack rate, but to a certain degree, they’re his fault. He’s been one of the worst starters in the league, and it’s not just one metric.
Among qualified passers, Ridder ranks 31st in QBR, 31st in Tru Media’s EPA/play, 29th in explosive throw rate, and 31st in negative play rate (sacks, interceptable passes, and fumbles).
It’s obvious the quarterback change hasn’t benefited the Falcons offense. You could probably argue that Ridder has been worse than Marcus Mariota. Atlanta’s pass catchers sure haven’t seen the benefits of the change. Kyle Pitts and Drake London occupy two of the three lowest catchable target rates.
57% — Kyle Pitts
58% — Jonathan Mingo
59% — Drake London
63% — Jahan Dotson
63% — Darius Slayton
63% — Amari Cooper
65% — Tee Higgins
68% — Jordan Addison
70% — Jaxon Smith-Njigba
The Falcons’ offensive struggles aren’t all on Ridder’s shoulders, but most of them fall at his feet. There’s not a single bigger factor in that group’s shortcomings than the quarterback play.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire