The Falcons haven’t had stability at the quarterback position in a long time. It’s been two years since the organization traded Matt Ryan, and it’s been a rollercoaster ever since with Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder.
The third-round pick took over for the veteran last year with four games left to play, but there’s been no level of consistency regardless of who is under center. In the past two weeks, Ridder has done a lot of encouraging things; however, it’s been mostly flashes. He’s had some inexcusable moments that cannot happen.
He tossed an interception in the endzone in the face of pressure instead of just throwing it away. It would prove to be the Falcons’ best chance of tying the game. Ridder totaled three interceptions against the Commanders, all in the second half, but he did lead two touchdown drives and another that looked promising before ending prematurely by the aforementioned pick.
It’s one step forward and two steps back with Ridder. As a rookie who was thrust into the starting lineup immediately, Matt Ryan knows better than any.
“You would have some good situations and then you would screw something up. The biggest thing is to not make the same mistakes over and over. Towards the end of that year, I was still making mistakes but they were new mistakes — that’s what you’re looking for,” the CBS broadcast told Jeff Schultz of The Athletic about his 2008 rookie campaign.
Making the same mistakes over and over is how Ridder will be out of a starting job. He’s approaching a notable benchmark in his career — a full season. He’s got 10 starts under his belt; seven more and the Falcons will have had an entire year to assess Ridder, who is certainly still auditioning for the gig.
“What you’re going to see in October and November will give you one full season to evaluate where he’s at,” Ryan told Schultz. “The areas you’re looking for growth are situational play… If I put my GM cap on, I would say the next six weeks are important. Because with the Falcons, the decision (on Ridder’s future) hasn’t been made, yet.”
The new Falcons regime hasn’t taken the most efficient approach with Ridder. Starting Marcus Mariota last year likely made the team better in the short term, but it delayed Ridder’s development and those invaluable in-game reps. Ryan feels similarly.
“I wish for him that he had had more time playing last year,” Ryan said. “Everybody’s situation is different. Mine was to come in and play right away. They felt like they could get good play out of Marcus for a stretch, but they didn’t. I would’ve loved to have seen (Ridder) earlier because every game, every situation, is so valuable. I just don’t think you can get that from the sideline. There’s going to be growing pains.”
Arthur Smith has hitched his wagon to Desmond Ridder, and as Matt Ryan eluded, the Falcons have to see it through with him.