The NFC South is a very winnable division. The Saints, as I predicted, are struggling with an aging roster and inept offensive coordinator. The Buccaneers might be the favorites right now, but the Falcons are very capable of taking this weak division.
However, you’d be ridiculous to deny that Ridder is holding this team back and could potentially keep them from winning the South. There’s certainly some value in getting him experience, but at what expense? The NFL stands for Not For Long, and a playoff berth is within reach. Is Arthur Smith ready to hitch his wagon to Ridder and potentially risk his own job?
Taylor Heinicke could probably get the team to the playoffs. It might be unfair to Ridder to pull him after four games this season, but then again, it might be unfair to the rest of the team to continue starting him.
The next six weeks will be a big indicator of who this team is. They’ll draw the Texans and Commanders at home, the Buccaneers and Titans on the road, then the Vikings at home, and the Cardinals on the road. All are very winnable games, but this is the NFL — “Any given Sunday.”
The Falcons could very well be 6-4 going into their bye week, well-positioned to make a run at the postseason. However, if things don’t go their way and they sit 4-6 going into the bye week, Arthur Smith will have to consider turning to Taylor Heinicke.
It’s not an easy decision. If the Falcons bench Ridder, Smith is effectively giving up on him ever being a starting quarterback for this team, which is fine. He just has to have conviction in whichever he decides.
The Falcons gave Marcus Mariota 13 games last year before benching him; one would think that Smith will give Ridder a similar leash. It’s not ideal, especially if Ridder doesn’t improve, but it’s the bed the Falcons made. Now, they have to lie in it.
Fans might call for Desmond Ridder’s job, but Arthur Smith might be at the point where he has to see it through.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire