Falcons: Desmond Ridder an ‘executor not a playmaker’

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The Falcons are putting their faith in a third-round pick that proved very little during his rookie campaign. After four measly starts, Desmond Ridder is being given the reins in Atlanta.

The offense is loaded, and the defense is primed to improve dramatically from a year ago. Wherever you look, the personnel is improved. The offensive line returns four starters, and the skill group added Bijan Robinson and Jonnu Smith. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons added big-time players at all three levels — Jessie Bates III, Kaden Elliss, David Onyemata, and Calais Campbell.

Everyone is expecting improvement. I don’t think it’s crazy to say most Falcons fans expect a playoff berth; anything less than a .500 record would be a failure. There is one unknown, however, Desmond Ridder.

You’d think there’s no way he could be worse than Marcus Mariota. That’s not a guarantee, though. I believe he can be a serviceable signal caller, but I’m optimistic. The Athletic’s Randy Meuller isn’t as high on the Falcons quarterback.

“Ridder can make all the carded throws and predetermined target types with slight progress on the plays that call for “if this/then this”-type reads. Simple one-two choices,” Randy analyzed.

I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong. In Arthur Smith’s offense, that is all that’s needed. The Falcons’ offense doesn’t hinge on Desmond Ridder being the hero, which Meuller admits.

“Processing entire coverage packages and seeing the whole field may never be needed in head coach Arthur Smith’s RPO-heavy attack, so a lot of Ridder’s throws, like (Justin) Fields’, take place off dominant run play-action fakes. So there is just as much question, in my mind, on the system being able to advance the passing game enough to win consistently at the NFL level as there is on Ridder’s competency as a pocket passer at the NFL level.”

That is a fair assessment of the Falcons offense. It’s a dated offense that hasn’t necessarily proven to work on the biggest stage. It’s consistently come up short in the postseason, outside of Sean McVay’s Super Bowl victory. However, Matthew Stafford is a difference-maker, unlike the other quarterbacks in similar systems. Randy also points out something that Falcons fans might not be eager to learn if they haven’t already.

“My concern still starts with the fact Ridder has played a lot of football, becoming the starter at University of Cincinnati his redshirt freshman year and throwing 810 career collegiate passes, which is way more than most. Yet, is there an advancement coming? At this point, he is more of an executor, and not a playmaker. I’m not sure that’s sustainable at the NFL level,” he stated.

The Falcons aren’t competing for a Super Bowl, but they are expecting a playoff berth. They don’t need Desmond Ridder to be anything other than a game manager, a point guard to distribute the ball to the team’s playmakers. But they’ll need something more if they ever want to win the big game down the road.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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