Ahead of their Week 10 tilt against the Cardinals, Taylor Heinicke was named the Falcons starting quarterback for the second straight week, but Arthur Smith said the position would be re-evaluated after the bye week.
Heinicke was at-best average in his outing in Arizona and ended up leaving early in the fourth quarter with an injury. Desmond Ridder relieved the veteran and helped lead a touchdown drive late in the final period that gave the Falcons the lead. Unfortunately, Atlanta’s defense couldn’t get the last stop, and the Cardinals sent Atlanta home with their third straight loss.
Smith wouldn’t commit to a starting quarterback this past week, but most expect him to name Ridder the starter once again for the rest of the year. We’ve yet to hear from him, but Ian Rapoport has reported this morning that it will be Ridder under center against the Saints.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 19, 2023
James Palmer also added to the situation by saying, “From what I’m told, the Falcons believed the bulk of Ridder’s mistakes were correctable & felt he had a lot of learning to do. A move back to him was always planned unless Taylor Heinicke went on a ridiculous run. It wasn’t like they fell out of love with Ridder. Needed a reset.”
From what I'm told, the Falcons believed the bulk of Ridder's mistakes were correctable & felt he had a lot of learning to do. A move back to him was always planned unless Taylor Heinicke went on a ridiculous run. It wasn't like they fell out of love with Ridder. Needed a reset. https://t.co/jNF4EZVsWs
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) November 19, 2023
Frankly, I was shocked the Falcons went to Heinicke in the first place. Not that I didn’t want to see what the veteran could do, but I thought Ridder had shown improvements as passer each week leading up to his benching. For a first year starter that was a third-round pick, that’s about all you can ask for.
Ridder did commit way too many mistakes, but as Palmer alluded to, most of them seemed easily fixable. Letting a young quarterback work through those is part of the process, and benching Ridder could have a lasting effect on his confidence. Let’s hope that isn’t the case, because next Sunday the Falcons host the Saints in the most pivotal matchup of the season.
With a win, Atlanta could be viewed as a the favorites to win the NFC South. With a loss, it might take a miracle for them to end this playoff drought.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire