Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder - Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons News

Former NFL GM Preaches Patience for Falcons: ‘This is Year 1’

A narrative is growing around Atlanta Falcons fans. The team is ready to take the next step in head coach Arthur Smith’s third season.

Former NFL general manager and contributor to The Athletic Randy Mueller isn’t so sure.

Mueller was critical of Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot on July 15. In an article identifying each NFC South team’s biggest concern, Mueller argued the Falcons may still not have enough good players. He added that the team made “a substantial investment” in good but not different-maker players this offseason.

But he also preached patience when he came to quarterback Desmond Ridder and the entire roster.

“We all need to tell ourselves this is Year 1 of a retool for this front office and staff and to have some patience,” wrote Mueller. “Playing in the NFC South helps their cause.”

Smith and Fontenot are both entering their third seasons. However, the Falcons were “in cap jail,” as Mueller put it, the past two years. In 2022, the team paid $62 million in dead cap space to players not on the roster.

With that in mind, one could argue the 2023 season will be the first time one can truly evaluate Smith or Fontenot.

Mueller complimented the Falcons for drafting running back Bijan Robinson. Mueller conceded that Robinson is a difference maker. But Mueller also wrote that the passing game needs to evolve from “tight ends being the focal point.”

Behind center, Mueller definitely expressed concerns about Ridder. But at least he didn’t rule him out as a long-term solution as a lot of NFL analysts this summer.

“Quarterback Desmond Ridder is at best a work in progress for me,” wrote the former NFL GM. I saw in his four games last year the same things I saw in college at Cincinnati: an inconsistent processor of defenses and a lack of accuracy from the pocket.

“I’m going to leave this one alone and see how his development goes.”

Add it all up, it’s an interesting take from a man who was previously in the NFL roster-building business. But patience has never been any fan base’s best virtue.