Falcons HC isn’t open to Desmond Ridder hypotheticals but might not have a choice

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When the Falcons traded away Matt Ryan, the team quickly found his replacement(s) by signing Marcus Mariota and then drafting Desmond Ridder shortly after. Much had been made about the quarterback competition in Atlanta, but once the team reported for camp, the veteran quickly separated himself from the rookie. Mariota was named the starter, but the Atlanta media has been persistent in the Ridder hypotheticals. To which Arthur Smith has shut down over and over again.

In an interview with Jeff Schultz of The AthleticSmith continued to dismiss any chance of Ridder playing in 2022, citing his primary focus on the task at hand — beating the Saints in Week 1.

How many games does Desmond need to play for you to get an accurate assessment of him?

I’m not answering hypothetical, fantasy football and that kind of BS, Jeff.

No. I’m just asking you a question. Before you make a decision on quarterback next year, you’re going to want to know what you have in Desmond Ridder, right?

We want to know what we have in Marcus Mariota. So if you want to make this about ’23, and you can ask every which way, we’re focused on Week 1. We’re not going to go near some hypothetical. That’s not where our focus is now. Our focus is on the New Orleans Saints. If you want to hang out with the bots on Twitter and social media and get all these hypothetical GM scenarios or great team building or some of these other asinine narratives, go ahead.

Ridder will likely not unseat Mariota as the starter; after all, the veteran has done nothing to relinquish the starting job. However, Ridder needs to be ready to play during the regular season regardless of what Arthur Smith says because Mariota has been susceptible to injury. Since 2015, the former No. 2 overall pick has dealt with a laundry list of health issues, which I have detailed in a previous article.

Date League Injury Details
Jan 12, 2015 Non-NFL Shoulder A/C Joint Sprain Mariota sprained his right shoulder in the National Championship game.
Oct 18, 2015 NFL Knee MCL Sprain Grade 2 Mariota was rolled up on in Week 6 against the Dolphins and sprained his MCL. He missed the next two games.
Dec 20, 2015 NFL Knee MCL Sprain Grade 2 Mariota sprained his right MCL and missed the final two games.
Dec 24, 2016 NFL Leg Fibula Fracture In Week 16, Mariota suffered a broken fibula against the Jags.
Oct 1, 2017 NFL Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1 Mariota missed only 1 game.
Dec 22, 2018 NFL Cervical Neck Stinger Mariota missed the season finale.
Sep 9, 2018 NFL Arm Elbow Sprain Mariota missed 1 game with a pinched nerve.
Nov 18, 2018 NFL Cervical Neck Stinger Mariota missed 1 half of play but returned the following week vs. Houston.
Aug 27, 2020 NFL Chest Pectoral Strain Grade 2 Mariota was placed on injured reserve as he was dealing with a strained pectoral during the training camp. He missed the first five games of 2020 season.
Aug 12, 2021 NFL Leg Quad Strain Mariota missed preseason games because of a quad injury
Sep 13, 2021 NFL Leg Quad Strain Mariota aggravated a strained quadriceps during the Week 1 win over the Ravens. He was placed on IR and missed five games.

Falcons fans might not know much about Mariota, but he’s as competitive as they come in the National Football League. Fans in Atlanta got their first glimpse of that against the Lions when the veteran scrambled multiple times without giving himself up. He fights for every yard, which certainly provides a spark for the team and fan base, but he constantly puts himself in harm’s way. You never want a guy to change his style of play, but at some point, he has to realize that he’s QB1.

Ridder needs to be ready to play because if history repeats, Mariota will eventually miss some time. This isn’t something I’m hoping for at all; it’s just how the old saying goes, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”

The Falcons are going into each week with the expectation to win football games, and Mariota under center gives the team the best chance of doing that. Fans are looking into the future, with the prospect of landing Bryce Young or CJ Stroud being tantalizing. To pull that trigger, the fan base believes the team can’t make an informed decision without knowing what they have in Ridder. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with this new regime.

The Falcons will try and win as many games as possible, but Arthur Smith would be wise to acknowledge at least the fact that Mariota could miss time with injury. It’s best to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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