A couple of weeks ago, we were talking about this Falcons team in a different light. It was not perfect, but they managed to move to 2-0 behind a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback at home against the Packers. Now, it feels like the sky is falling after back-to-back blowout losses at the hands of the Lions and Jaguars.
Atlanta losing a couple of games to good teams away from home is far from a shocking development, but it’s the way they are losing that has Falcons fans reeling heading into Week 5. The offense, which many expected to be an underrated group this season, hasn’t found any rhythm since the opening possession in Week 1.
Arthur Smith doesn’t seem to trust Desmond Ridder enough to push the ball downfield, and even when he does, Ridder hasn’t been able to execute properly. The Falcons have been successful establishing the run more often than not, but they’ve had next to no success when trying to work off play-action. Teams are stacking the box and daring Ridder to beat them, which he’s been unable to do, leading to 13 points over the last eight quarters.
There’s no point in sugar-coating it. Atlanta’s offense is among the worst in football right now. Desmond Ridder looks like a deer in headlights every time he drops back, resulting in sacks and poor decision-making. There is so much he is doing wrong, that it’s almost impossible to imagine him turning it this around this season.
Despite that, Arthur Smith is remaining committed to the second-year quarterback for at least one more week. Ridder has had much more success at home than he has on the road in his first eight starts, so perhaps Week 5 against the Texans proves to be a get-right game. For his sake, it better be, or we could be looking at another quarterback under center in Week 6.
I think most Falcons fans understood what a realistic ceiling for this team was coming into the year. A 2-2 start is right about what most logical people would have expected. However, it’s fair to question the overall direction of where this team is headed.
We are now in Year 3 of the new regime, and the Falcons haven’t even really attempted to fix the most significant problem with the team under center. Matt Ryan should have been traded before the 2021 season. I’m not sure what the Falcons were doing with Marcus Mariota, and then they fully committed to Desmond Ridder going into 2023. What they saw in him remains a mystery, because he’s shown nothing over eight starts that suggests he can be a starting NFL quarterback.
It’s the most important position in all of sports and has been a problem in Atlanta since before Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot arrived, yet the only investment they’ve made in the position is a third-round pick. One that they refused to start until way too late last season. Oh, and then they thought it would be a good idea to give him just one drive throughout the entire preseason?
The Falcons defense is legit. The investment on that side of the ball has paid off, and they might just be good enough to keep this team in the playoff race until January, but how much does that really matter in the grand scheme of things? The Falcons have a coach and quarterback that appear to be in over their heads, problems that could take several more years to correct.
Photographer: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire