It’s disappointing that all the talk following Week 4 is going to be about Desmond Ridder and whether he deserves to continue starting at quarterback for the Falcons, but that’s the nature of the NFL. Teams don’t stand a chance at winning with incompetent QB play, and until Atlanta finds their franchise quarterback, it will be the primary topic of discussion week in and week out.
Which is unfortunate because this Falcons defense is really playing like one of the top units in the league. They held a very good Jaguars offense to just 16 points on Sunday, as the new additions continue to pull their weight.
Jessie Bates III has been among the best defensive players in all of football. David Onyemata has been a load to handle on the interior. Calais Campbell turned in another fantastic performance on Sunday. Kaden Elliss continues to be a solid addition to the second level, and in Week 4, Jeff Okudah made his first start of the season opposite of A.J. Terrell, performing very well.
Seeing this makes me so happy – Jeff Okudah's PFF grades in his first start for the Falcons (all good marks)
Run def: 72.5
I think Atlanta's defense can be legit all year, and if the offense does click things could go right fast. pic.twitter.com/UDF4rTDjee
— Will McFadden (@willmcfadden) October 2, 2023
It’s only one game, but Jeff Okudah is going to be a tremendous upgrade over what Tre Flowers gave the team in the first three games. He’s yet another reason to be excited for this Falcons defense, which is a group that’s still getting familiar with each other under a first-year defensive coordinator in Ryan Nielsen. It’s very possible Atlanta’s defense is just scratching the surface. Unfortunately, it’s not going to matter without better quarterback play.
Arthur Smith has committed to Desmond Ridder as the team’s starter for at least one more week, but for the first time, it at least seemed like he is open to making changes if things don’t improve. That could be necessary when it comes to saving his job. The Falcons defense is loaded with veterans, many of which won’t be around next season. Wasting what they provide while Ridder continues to flounder is not a good look for anybody in the organization, and it can’t go on for much longer.
Photographer: Steven King/Icon Sportswire