The Falcons added a ton of talent to the roster. It’s by far the best roster of Arthur Smith’s tenure in Atlanta, thanks to the mountain of cap space the club had at the start of the offseason.
Most of the improvements came on the defensive side of the ball. Considering the offense was already a productive group, it wasn’t too shocking. The offensive line returned four of five starters, and the club drafted a potential starter at left guard, Matthew Bergeron, in the second round. Kyle Pitts, Drake London, Tyler Allgeier, and Cordarrelle Patterson in what was an already formidable skill group that added Bijan Robinson and Jonnu Smith this offseason.
Needless to say, it’s playoffs or bust for the Falcons in 2023. The supporting cast is ready to compete, and the NFC South is the worst division in football. The team’s postseason aspirations mostly hinge on Desmond Ridder, which brings me to the point of this piece — will he eclipse PFF’s passing total?
Assuming Ridder starts all 17 games, 2,600 total passing yards would equate to about 153 yards per game, which should be easily eclipsed. The Falcons threw for nearly 3,000 yards last year between Ridder and Marcus Mariota. Averaging about 200 yards per game would put Ridder around 3,400 yards.
This is all speculation, though. There’s no telling what kind of play calling splits Arthur Smith will use. He regularly took the ball out of Mariota’s hands, refusing the pass the ball, so that shouldn’t be ruled out for Ridder either.
However, if Ridder is worse than Mariota, we’ve got a bigger problem than over/under passing yards. I would expect a bit more of a balanced approach, still favoring the run game though. In four starts, Ridder threw for 708 yards on 115 attempts, which is a 3,009-yard pace across 17 games on about 28 passes per game.
That’s all to say Desmond Ridder should throw for more than 2,600.5 yards.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire