After a promising start, the Falcons’ season ended how most people expected — out of playoff contention. However, there are plenty of positives to look back on from this year. Atlanta’s rushing attack has blossomed into one of the most potent in the league. We also received our first look at rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder, who hasn’t played too shabby for a third-round pick through his first three starts of the season.
In Ridder’s NFL debut, there wasn’t a lot to like. He did finish the game much better than he started, but overall, he didn’t perform like an NFL caliber quarterback, throwing for just 99 yards. The second game against the Ravens started out looking like more of the same. Ridder was jittery and missing his windows by 10+ yards. However, around the second quarter in Baltimore, a flip seemed to switch.
Ridder made several impressive throws down the stretch against the Ravens, and if it weren’t for some egregious calls by the refs and another critical fumble from Drake London, the Falcons probably would have left Maryland victorious. Still, I walked away from that contest believing Ridder had a legitimate chance to be a franchise quarterback, something he continued to display this past Sunday against the Cardinals.
Arthur Smith, as he’s done all season, has done a fantastic job of not forcing Ridder to do too much. Atlanta’s a run-first football team, and that was on display early and often last weekend. The Falcons rushed for 132 yards on the ground, with breakout star Tyler Allgeier leading the way, carrying the ball for 83 yards on 20 carries.
The game came down to the wire, as Ridder and the Falcons received the ball with just over five minutes left, trailing by two. Ridder opened up the drive with a seven yard pass to Cordarrelle Patterson, and came up big again on a 3rd and 7 at the Arizona 27, hitting MyCole Pruitt for 14 yards, which allowed the Falcons to milk the rest of the clock and set up a chip shot game-winning field goal for Younghoe Koo.
Ridder’s final state line read 19/26 for 169 yards. He’s still yet to throw a touchdown pass this season, but he’s also protected the ball, turning it over zero times. I don’t think he’s shown anything to lock down the starting job for 2023. The Falcons will evaluate all of their options this offseason through the draft and free agency, but Ridder hasn’t done anything to hurt his chances, either. I’ve been pleased with the way he’s looked over his last seven quarters of football, and if he finishes the season strong against a tough Bucs defense, he has a great chance of beginning 2023 as the team’s starting quarterback.
Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire