Falcons’ playoff hopes hinge on Desmond Ridder says free agent signing

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The Falcons haven’t played in a postseason game since 2017; it’s been five years, and the club has a legitimate chance in 2023 to return to the playoffs. The NFC South is wide open, but the team’s hopes hinge on Desmond Ridder.

The roster is in the best position since the new regime took over, and expectations are growing after back-to-back 7-10 finishes. Despite the upgraded personnel, this team will only go as far as their young signal caller.

Thankfully, the team is built to rely minimally on Ridder. Arthur Smith’s offense isn’t going to ask the former third-round pick to drop back and throw it 40 times a game. Run the ball, play defense, and don’t put too much on Ridder’s plate.

Still, it’s the NFL, and the Falcons will need him to take a step forward from his four-game sample size. Free agent signee Calais Campbell knows just how important Desmond Ridder’s development will be for the Falcons to reach the playoffs.

“If Ridder continues to develop and be who I think he can be, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re playing late in January and potentially February,” Campbell said.

The veteran saw what Ridder was capable of in person when Atlanta traveled to Baltimore during the teams’ Week 16 matchup. Campbell sat out due to injury but saw Ridder in his second career start throw for 218 yards on 22-of-33 passing in a 17-9 loss.

“Ridder played his best game against us, up until that point,” said Campbell. “He played great.”

The club has been in playoff contention late into the year in both seasons under Arthur Smith. If Ridder shows steady development, getting over the hump could soon become a reality.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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