The Atlanta Falcons sit at 2-2 heading into a winnable Week 5 matchup against the Houston Texans. But it doesn’t really feel that way for the Falcons.
Not after back-to-back weeks where the Atlanta offense scored a total of 13 points.
But even in the Weeks 1 and 2 victories, the Atlanta offense didn’t exactly shine. The Falcons have scored just six offensive touchdowns this season.
There isn’t just one problem. Maybe tight end Kyle Pitts isn’t completely healthy. The team’s pass blocking hasn’t exactly been stellar either.
But there is one problem that’s bigger than all the rest — quarterback.
Desmond Ridder has regressed since playing at replacement level for four games at the end of last season. He has thrown 3 touchdowns versus 3 interceptions while completing 62.2% of his passes for 6.3 yards per pass in 2023.
Interestingly, though, NFL insider Jason La Canfora argued Atlanta’s quarterback problems started long before Ridder.
“Owner Arthur Blank stayed too loyal for too long to Matt Ryan, paying him top-end money for pedestrian play, and now he doesn’t seem to want to get real about the cost of doing business at the QB position — or utilize a high draft pick on one,” wrote La Canfora.
The issue with that take is the Falcons did reportedly pursue Deshaun Watson. They didn’t offer him $230 million guaranteed, which is why he landed in Cleveland, but no one but the Browns thought that was a good idea.
When given a second opportunity to court a high-priced, proven quarterback in Lamar Jackson, though, the Falcons passed.
“You can’t win in this league with him as your starting quarterback,” a current NFL general manager told La Canfora. “Doesn’t matter what division you are in. … They should have gone after Lamar Jackson when they had the chance.”
It’s hard to fault the Falcons for wanting to stay loyal to Matt Ryan. He’s arguably the greatest player in franchise history.
But any quarterback decision Atlanta has made since passing on Justin Fields in the 2021 draft can be questioned. They’ve all led the Falcons on a path to where Ridder was the best option behind center for the 2023 season.
Even in the wide open NFC South and with a plethora of weapons at his disposal, Ridder doesn’t appear good enough to lead the Falcons back to the playoffs.