Atlanta Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke - Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons News

Falcons Announce Change at Quarterback

Three days after referring to the Atlanta Falcons as Desmond Ridder’s team, head coach Arthur Smith announced that veteran Taylor Heinicke will start at quarterback in Week 9.

Ridder has been dealing with a concussion this week. But Smith told the media that the medical staff cleared Ridder to play. Ridder will serve as the team’s No. 2 quarterback this week.

Smith explained during his press conference on Wednesday that the change will be for one game.

“Just for this week, just with all the variables, just kind of considering everything the last 72 hours, and what we feel is best for this week against Minnesota. Taylor will play this week,” said Smith.

A change at quarterback shouldn’t be all that surprising. Ridder has struggled, throwing 6 touchdowns versus 6 interceptions this season. He’s also completed 65.4% of his passes and averaged 7.1 yards per pass.

Ridder is 18th in the NFL in yards per attempt and 19th in completion percentage this season.

Heinicke replaced Ridder, who left for a concussion evaluation, in Week 8. In his first action of the season, Heinicke nearly led the Falcons to a comeback win. Heinicke completed 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown versus the Titans.

Before signing with the Falcons this past offseason, Heinicke routinely sparked his previous team — the Washington Commanders off the bench. He went 7-8 as a starter in 2021 and 5-3-1 last season.

Heinicke replaced an injured Carson Wentz as Washington’s starter midseason in 2022. He threw 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 9 contests.

Smith can say what he wants about the Falcons still being Ridder’s team and that Heinicke will start just against the Minnesota Vikings. However, it’s pretty evident the Falcons are looking for an offensive spark.

The Falcons are ranked 18th in passing yards per game and 28th in points per contest.

If Atlanta experiences a breakout game with Heinicke behind center in Week 9, the team’s change at quarterback won’t be for just a week.