After defeating New Orleans, the Falcons are in the driver’s seat of the NFC South with a 3-0 record against divisional opponents. Arthur Smith is on course to coach in the first playoff game since Mercedes Benz Stadium’s inception. It will end the Falcons postseason drought, but it could come at a cost.
If Desmond Ridder, who returned to the starting lineup after spending a few games on the bench, leads this team to playoffs, I fear Smith and Terry Fontenot will commit to the third-round pick in 2024.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic considers the evaluation “ongoing” of Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke.
The Falcons desperately want Ridder to be the guy. They were high on the 24-year-old before selecting him in the third round in 2022 and stuck with him longer than expected this season despite the offense’s struggles. Heinicke has been a mildly successful fringe starter throughout his career but has never worked his way into the long-term conversation. Depending on how this plays out down the stretch, the Falcons will either stick with Ridder in 2024 or more aggressively pursue an upgrade.
I hope complacency isn’t in Smith and Fontenot’s vocabulary because that’s exactly what they’ll be doing if the Falcons end up with Ridder under center in 2024.
He could one day develop into a serviceable starter, but even that shouldn’t be enough. Without a quarterback who can overcome circumstances stacked against him, winning a Super Bowl is next to impossible. The Falcons can’t wait around for Ridder to realize his full potential because the ceiling isn’t worth it.
I sure as hell hope the club can recognize that a third-round investment isn’t even close to what it’s going to take to get the guy in the building that is a championship caliber signal caller. I hope the Falcons will hop on the quarterback carousel and end up significantly upgrading the position, even if it means starting over with a rookie.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire