Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder may be becoming a bit of a polarizing figure.
Most national media pundits aren’t too high on the 2022 third-round quarterback. However, local media and fans have been more positive.
Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox shared in that enthusiasm when he named Ridder one of the team’s biggest reasons for optimism heading in training camp.
Knox included Atlanta’s “loaded” offense as the other biggest reason for optimism.
“Falcons fans have every reason to believe that Atlanta can make a run at the division title,” Knox wrote. “The reason for optimism is second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder and what appears to be the most loaded skill group in the division.
“Ridder showed promise while starting the final four games of the season, went 2-2 as the starter and posted a respectable 86.4 passer rating. He’ll now operate with an incredible supporting cast.”
Most analysts are high on the offense’s youngsters — Bijan Robinson, Drake London, Kyle Pitts and Tyler Allgeier. But Knox also mentioned Cordarrelle Patterson, Mack Hollins, Scott Miller and Jonnu Smith when discussing Atlanta’s “incredible supporting cast” on offense.
The versatility that Robinson and Patterson offer could take the Falcons offense to another level on its own. Both are tremendous runners between the tackles and can catch passes out of the backfield. Furthermore, they each can line up as a receiver if need be.
Of the second group of players Knox mentioned, Smith may be the most important. Having a healthy Pitts again is obviously a key, but head coach Arthur Smith loves deploying two tight-end sets.
Having Pitts and Smith on the field at the same time could create mismatches in a couple different ways. If opposing defenses deploy more linebackers against Atlanta’s two tight-end sets, the Falcons could exploit the opposition with speed. Robinson, London and Patterson will all blow past linebackers.
But if defenses use more defensive backs to combat that speed, Pitts and Smith could prove difficult to tackle against a smaller defensive unit.
In summary, all of Atlanta’s skilled position players give the team reason for optimism. That includes Ridder, which is far from the consensus nationally.