The Falcons are set to kick off the preseason opener against the Lions on Friday as both teams’ starters are set to play. Atlanta’s young roster will be intriguing to watch with so many position battles yet to be determined. The offensive and defensive lines still have open spots, but the quarterback position is set in stone. Marcus Mariota is the starter, and it’s not particularly close, according to reports.
Jeff Schultz of The Athletic has said that Desmond Ridder is ‘way behind’ Mariota and that it’s ‘actually not even close.’ Schultz does mention that it isn’t an indictment of the Falcons rookie QB, but that Ridder’s accuracy just isn’t there. The veteran, on the other hand, looks much more polished, which really shouldn’t surprise anyone.
After trading away Matt Ryan this offseason, the Falcons quickly signed Mariota and drafted Ridder. The former is obviously more experienced than the rookie. Mariota has already played in Arthur Smith’s offense and is lightyears ahead of Ridder in what he’s seen from NFL defenses.
Despite reports from Flowery Branch suggesting Ridder isn’t like most rookie QBs and that teammates are gravitating toward him as a leader, the Cincinnati product was always going to have to work on his accuracy as a pro. Possessing the intangibles is only half the battle for signal callers, and it’s clear Ridder is still a work in progress.
Both QBs should get playing time against Detroit Friday, but I would be shocked if Ridder didn’t get regular-season snaps at some point. Mariota is notoriously injury-prone. He plays a style of football that is conducive to injuries. The Falcons would probably love to have Ridder sit a year to develop, but they might not have that luxury, and it could be a blessing in disguise.
If the front office isn’t able to take a thorough introspective look at Ridder, the 2023 draft will be that much more challenging. The QB class is loaded next year, and the Falcons will likely be in a position to land one of the top prospects. However, without any analysis of Ridder, it would make the decision less clear.
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