The Falcons have a quarterback problem. There were concerns about Desmond Ridder entering the season, and just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong through four weeks.
The offense, which many expected to be a surprising group this season, has sputtered early and often. They haven’t played anywhere close to a clean game, and over the last two weeks, they’ve managed just 13 points. The offensive line has been underwhelming, Arthur Smith has left a lot to be desired as a play-caller, but more than anything, Desmond Ridder has shown no signs of improvement over the first eight starts of his NFL career.
Ridder is not close to being a starting caliber quarterback. His anticipation has been brutal to go along with dismal decision-making and accuracy. There’s so much that needs to be fixed, that it’s difficult to imagine him ever figuring it out over the course of this season. Ridder is a major project, and Arthur Smith doesn’t have the time to see it through, or he’ll be looking for a new job sooner rather than later.
At some point, the Falcons will have to go searching for a quarterback, whether that be through the draft, free agency, or via trade. The latter of which is the subject of this piece.
In Chicago, there’s another quarterback who hasn’t come close to living up to expectations since being drafted 11th overall in the 2021 draft. Justin Fields has led the Bears to an 0-4 record and ranks 28th in the league in QBR. However, all of the blame can’t be placed on the Atlanta native and former Ohio State Buckeye.
The Bears have been a dumpster fire for longer than I can remember, constantly changing coaches and personnel. That’s not exactly the ideal environment for grooming a quarterback. Most fans in Chicago are ready to turn the page on Justin Fields, especially since they will likely have one of the top picks in the draft, but those in the national media aren’t sold on Fields as a bust.
On ESPN’s Get Up this morning, Mike Greenberg made quite the statement about what Fields could potentially accomplish in a different situation.
“If Justin Fields was the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons right this minute, they would be a thousand times better off,” said Greenberg.
"If Justin Fields was the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons right this minute, they would be a thousand times better off."
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) October 3, 2023
I don’t necessarily disagree with where Greenberg is coming from, but that’s more a testament to Ridder than anything. I have zero belief in the Falcons quarterback situation and feel as if a change is inevitable, whether it happens in the next month or in the offseason. With that being said, I’m not sure Fields is the answer either.
Justin Fields has had plenty of opportunities to make an impact in this league with different coaching staffs, and his decision-making and overall ability as a passer has not been up to par. Sure, the Falcons would likely be better with him under center, and perhaps that’s something they consider if the Bears put him up for trade, but the same could be said about Taylor Heinicke, who is already on the roster.
The reality of the situation is the Falcons are not going to find their franchise quarterback in the middle of this season. They made their decision this past offseason, and they are going to have to wait until next offseason to fix it.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire