The Falcons are hobbling into their bye week, losing three straight games to three different quarterbacks making their debuts in some form or fashion.
Atlanta was unable to mount a comeback against the Titans in Will Levis’ NFL debut, who lit up the Falcons’ defense for four touchdowns. The following week, the Falcons faced the Vikings without Kirk Cousins, as Josh Dobbs led Minnesota to a come from behind victory. And yesterday, it was Kyler Murray in his first start since tearing his ACL last year leading the Cardinals on a game-winning drive that ended in a field goal, dropping the Falcons to 4-6 on the season.
It’s by far the most disappointing stretch of the Arthur Smith era. There are far more questions than answers as the Falcons head into their bye week, but incredibly, everything remains in front of them.
The Falcons weren’t able to take advantage of the Saints loss to the Vikings, but they’ll have an opportunity to reclaim the division lead with a win in Atlanta against New Orleans following the bye week, which is almost comical given what’s transpired over the last three weeks.
As far as who will be the Falcons starting quarterback for that pivotal Week 12 matchup, Arthur Smith didn’t have an answer in his Monday press conference.
Arthur Smith has not made a final decision about who will start at quarterback when the Falcons come off their bye in two weeks.
"There is true evidence that we can right this thing."
— Josh Kendall (@JoshTheAthletic) November 13, 2023
Heinicke left Sunday’s contest early in the fourth quarter with an injury, so we’ll see if he’s even healthy enough to go following the bye week. However, he wasn’t performing particularly well prior to the injury, going 8-for-15 for just 55 yards and a touchdown.
Desmond Ridder then relieved Heinicke and was able to give the Falcons a lead with just over two minutes to go, scampering to the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown run. It would have been Ridder’s fourth game-winning drive of the season had the Falcons defense been able to prevent the Cardinals from scoring.
Arthur Smith said last week that the Falcons are not going to play musical chairs at the quarterback position. Taylor Heinicke had an opportunity to lock down the starting gig for good over the last couple of weeks, and I’m not sure he did enough to keep the job. The injury also re-opened the door for Ridder. I would be pretty surprised if he isn’t named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season following the bye week.
Photographer: Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire