The Falcons quarterback controversy has reached new heights following their loss to the Titans.
Desmond Ridder, who admittedly has made some strides as a passer since Week 1, struggled in Tennessee as the offense floundered. He completed 8 of his 12 passes for just 75 yards, was sacked five times, and also had another costly fumble. The Falcons offense was only able to muster three points as they headed into halftime down double digits.
It looked like Atlanta was headed for a blowout loss at the hands of Will Levis in his first NFL start, but after Desmond Ridder was evaluated (and cleared) for a concussion at halftime, Arthur Smith decided to turn to Taylor Heinicke as a precaution. I’m not sure we will ever know the true determinant in Smith’s decision, but what we got was an offense that looked more effective than it has all season with Ridder under center.
Heinicke completed 12-of-21 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown. The ball was coming out quickly and accurately. The improved quarterback play also opened up the ground game in the second half. All of which led to 20 points on six possessions. It’s now overwhelmingly evident that Heinicke gives the Falcons the best chance to win games right now and perhaps make the postseason. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple of a decision.
Like it or not, the Falcons focus is and should be on the future. They do need to figure out whether Ridder has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Smith and Fontenot have attached their wagon to him, and benching Ridder would essentially be moving on from him for good. Heinicke is a capable NFL quarterback, but he is not the future of the position in Atlanta. Playing him now may lead to a playoff berth, but it may not necessarily be the best decision regarding the future.
On Monday, Arthur Smith took the podium and responded to questions about who will start Week 9 against the Vikings, to which he was not willing to make a decision just yet.
Question: If Desmond Ridder is healthy, will he start this week?
Arthur Smith's answer: "We have to see where he's at. That's the best answer I can give you. Have to see where he's at. … We have to find a way to win this game."
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) October 30, 2023
Ridder was cleared after going through concussion protocols at halftime of Sunday’s game, so I’m not sure health is really the deciding factor. He should be ready to go, so if Heinicke gets the start, it’s a sign that there is a changing of the guard at the quarterback position for the Falcons.
The good news for Falcons fans? We shouldn’t have to wait much longer to find out. Smith went on to promise he would have a decision for the media on Wednesday.
Arthur Smith confirmed the Falcons will make the decision about who's starting at quarterback vs. the Vikings on Wednesday.
"I promise you, I'll come in on Wednesday and tell you who's starting."
— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) October 30, 2023
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire