Two things can be true at the same time. Desmond Ridder’s six turnovers over the last two weeks are indefensible and shrink the margin for error dramatically. However, the third-round pick also had a stellar day passing against the Buccaneers, including a game-winning drive to put the Falcons in sole possession of first place in the division.
Falcons fans just need to come to grips with the rollercoaster of a young quarterback. Ridder is learning on the job, and fans should fully expect more turbulent play from him.
His last three weeks are indicative of the quarterback Atlanta has under center. Ridder had his best performance to date against the Texans, notching career-bests across the board en route to a win over the Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner C.J. Stroud.
It gave fans a sense of hope that maybe he has what it takes to be the long-term answer the Falcons have been searching for since Matt Ryan. Then, Ridder followed it up with a three-interception performance against the Commanders in a contest which many came away thinking Atlanta should’ve won.
The defense gave Ridder and the offense more than a handful of opportunities to tie or even win the game, but the closest they got was a goal line interception, the second of three back-breaking turnovers by Ridder.
He responded the following week, though. I would say Sunday’s passing performance was the best of his career for several reasons. The Buccaneers have a more formidable defense than the Texans, and Ridder’s top weapon — Bijan Robinson — was a non-factor.
Under those circumstances, Ridder had a 91% adjusted completion percentage (minus drops) with an 8.2-yard average depth of target and 10 yards per attempt.
Two things can be true at once.
The Week 7 performance in Tampa Bay was encouraging for Ridder. He looked in control of the offense, never played out of the system, and took what Todd Bowles’ defense gave him. He looked poised under pressure and never flinched in the face of adversity, leading the Falcons offense down the field for a game-winning field goal.
However, he’s still being way too careless with the football. Fumbling the ball away three times in the red zone nets a loss nearly every time. In fact, the Falcons became the first team to win a game while doing so since the 2004 Cardinals. They got lucky.
The margin for error dramatically shrinks when you turn the ball over, and Desmond Ridder leads the league in turnover-worthy plays (15) and is second in turnover-worth play rate (5.5%). This isn’t a new trend either. Ridder hasn’t been lower than second in either metric all season.
Turnovers have held the offense back, but Ridder’s improvements are undeniable. The simple fact is evaluating quarterback play in the NFL is never black and white. Ridder is doing good things coupled with inexcusable mistakes.
Falcons fans should just buckle into the Ridder rollercoaster because he’s not getting benched and these fluctuations aren’t over.
Photographer: John Adams/Icon Sportswire