The Atlanta Falcons have lost three games in a row and appear to be in the midst of an identity crisis. After starting Taylor Heinicke for two games, head coach Arthur Smith will turn back to Desmond Ridder according to Ian Rapoport.
“Sources: The Falcons will start QB Desmond Ridder going forward, beginning with their next game against the Saints, handing the ball back to their original starter,” wrote Rapoport on X.
The writing was on the wall last week on who was going to be the starter. When asked what he was looking for to make a decision, Arthur Smith waxed poetic for nearly-two minutes on Ridder.
The move makes sense. Heinicke was completely ineffective in his last start against the Arizona Cardinals. He passed for just 55 yards on 15 attempts. Smith should be, and has been blamed for that embarrassing showing against Arizona, but it’s also Smith making the call at quarterback.
Ridder led the team’s go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals. He threw for over 250 yards in each of his last three games before being pulled against the Titans. He also had six turnovers in those three games.
Ridder cleared concussion protocol against Tennessee, but Smith went with Heinicke in the second half of a 28-23 loss. Heinicke started the following-two games, both losses.
At 4-6 the Falcons are improbably alive in the NFC South. They are one game behind both the Saints and the Buccaneers in the loss column. They play the Saints twice and the Buccaneers once more.
The Falcons are 4-6 after facing statistically the easiest schedule in the NFL. The remainder of their schedule is statistically the easiest in the NFL.
The Atlanta Falcons control their own destiny. However, Arthur Smith and his crew have given fans little reason to think they’ll turn it around.
Smith turns back to Ridder to right the ship and possibly save his job.