The Falcons are making a change at quarterback as the club prepares to host the Kirk Cousin-less Vikings.
Taylor Heinicke will be under center on Sunday after relieving Desmond Ridder of his duties last week against the Titans. The veteran led four scoring drives in Nashville, totaling 20 points to Ridder’s three points in the first half.
Some of the offense’s shortcomings can be attributed to Arthur Smith and the offensive line, but Ridder’s inability to protect the football ultimately cost him his starting job… at least for now.
Atlanta’s head coach has emphatically declared this a short-term thing with Heinicke as the starter, though I have a hard time believing that. The Falcons would have to lose to Minnesota and a fifth-round rookie making his NFL debut in Jarren Hall for there to even be a conversation about going back to Ridder.
Even then, Heinicke would have to look like an absolute tomato can in said hypothetical loss. There’s no way Arthur Smith can seriously look at his players in the eyes and tell them the team has a better chance with Ridder under center.
The Falcons are better suited to win football games with Heinicke at the helm, and that should be the only goal right now. That effectively means the Falcons are waving the white flag on Ridder ever being the long-term starter in Atlanta.
There’s no precedent for a third-round pick being benched then coming back and becoming a franchise quarterback. The odds were stacked against Ridder initially. Now, they’re insurmountable.
It should be Heinicke’s team for the rest of the season, but that’s where it should end. Regardless of how he plays the rest of the year, he’s not a serious long-term answer for this team. The Falcons have to stop settling at the quarterback position — Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, etc.
There has to be a sense of direction under center. I’m praying the Falcons don’t fall into a lull if Heinicke impresses. A similar situation like the one in Tennessee with Ryan Tannehill could play out, and that would be the worst case scenario for Atlanta.
The club should be in the market for a quarterback this offseason. It doesn’t matter if it’s through the draft, free agency, a trade, or any other avenue; Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith need to be big game hunting.
Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire