Following a Week 8 loss to the Titans, the Falcons are making a change at quarterback. Arthur Smith announced on Wednesday that Taylor Heinicke will be starting over Desmond Ridder for the time being.
Smith has made it very well known that this is a temporary fix in a must-win situation against the Vikings. But I’m not sure how the Falcons can go back to Desmond Ridder if Heinicke wins this game, regardless of the performance.
The team needs a leader to follow. It’s a talented roster, but it’s not talented enough to win going back and forth between quarterbacks. There needs to be some level of consistency, one voice in the locker room.
You won’t get that vibe if you ask the Falcons players, though. They’re giving the politically correct, coach-speak answers when asked about the quarterback change.
“There is no reaction, that’s the coach’s decision,” Kyle Pitts said. “I still have to do my job, so it’s not really something that I’m too much thinking about.”
There is no reaction is a hilarious lie. Even if it’s a mild one, Kyle Pitts and the Falcons at least had a response, whether it be physical or mental.
“I wouldn’t say that it changes much,” Jake Matthews said. “We have a lot of confidence in whoever we are putting back there. It’s not like we are going to be running some completely new offense. We’ll rally behind whoever is (playing).”
Matthews is correct. Unlike the switch from Marcus Mariota to Desmond Ridder, the switch to Taylor Heinicke shouldn’t result in a dramatic change to the Falcons’ scheme. Arthur Smith may feel more comfortable pushing the ball down the field or calling a particular play, but the bones of the offense are still in place.
“When the news came out, we were right next to each other,” Bijan Robinson said.”When it came out today, he was fine. He didn’t look worried or fazed or anything. We were just still laughing and eating at the table. Taylor was right next to us as well. We were good.”
It’s good to hear that Desmond Ridder isn’t handling this like an immature rookie. We’ve seen young quarterbacks handle a demotion poorly and never recover plenty of times. This can be an opportunity or the end of his career in Atlanta, depending on how Ridder handles it.
“We’ve all had a ton of reps with Taylor in the offseason and in camp,” Scotty Miller said. “We are all excited for his opportunity. He’s a really good player. He’s played a ton of football in this league….So, I’m just excited to play alongside him.”
Scotty Miller’s comment is closer to the truth than any of the others. I bet the Falcons are excited to see what Taylor Heinicke can do with such a loaded supporting cast. Fans sure are, especially after his second half performance against the Titans.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire