Beginning in 2022, the Atlanta Falcons will have a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2008. After Arthur Smith’s failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson resulted in the trade of Matt Ryan to the Colts, the Falcons will start the upcoming season with Marcus Mariota under center.
But rookie Desmond Ridder is waiting in the wings. Ridder was drafted by the Falcons in the third round after having a successful season with the Cincinnati Bearcats last year (they made the playoffs). The quarterback, who was drafted in the second round after Kenny Pickett, threw for over 10,000 yards and rushed for over 2,000 more during his collegiate career.
Before the draft, Ridder made it clear that he wanted to win quickly and often. On April 27 he published an advertisement for himself in the Players Tribune targeting NFL general managers. Unfiltered, he told Terry Fontenot on the phone that “it shouldn’t have taken this long” before the Falcons drafted him.
The question now for the Falcons is whether or not Ridder will play this season.
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In 2022, will Desmond Ridder be able to take the field for the Falcons?
It’s possible that Ridder will take the starting role.
It’s a bad year for the Falcons. They have no players of note on their roster, and they are essentially in the same position as the Texans were before the 2017 season.
Just as Mariota is the presumed starter for the Tennessee Titans this season, Tyrod Taylor was the expected starter for the Houston Texans in 2018. Last year in Week 2, when Taylor injured his hamstring, the Texans were forced to start third-round pick Davis Mills. Mills ended up doing a decent job for the team.
Yet, the Falcons and their supporters appear to have accepted their fate for the year. According to Sports Interaction, they have the second-longest odds of any NFL team to win the Super Bowl. And if the Atlanta Falcons have their sights set on a higher draft pick in 2023, Ridder isn’t the quarterback they’ll need to see in a panic.
Read on to find out why the Panthers are favoring Baker Mayfield over Sam Darnold in their starting lineup.
How much playing time in the Falcons’ starting lineup does Desmond Ridder need?
Ridder starting next season is unlikely unless Mariota is particularly offensive or gets hurt.
In 2019, Atlanta fans are hoping Mariotta can at least slow the team’s downward spiral despite low expectations. The fact that Smith knew him helped him land a two-year contract with the Falcons. Since he played with Smith in Tennessee, he won’t have to learn the system from scratch.
Last time Mariott saw significant playing time was in 2020 against the Chargers when he filled in for Derek Carr and performed adequately. In the game against the Chargers that they lost, he threw for 226 yards, scoring once and being intercepted once. If he maintains that performance level for the rest of the season, the Falcons won’t win many games, but they also won’t lose many games.
Although this news may be disheartening to Falcons fans, remember that this is only Fontenot’s second year with the club, and that the focus this year is on building a solid foundation. Remember that Ridder is playing this season behind “break in case of emergency” glass, especially since Feleipe Franks is the only other quarterback on the depth chart.
Read on to find out the other reasons why Malik Willis won’t be the Titans’ starting quarterback next season.
What were Desmond Ridder’s stats last year?
Ridder played all four years of his college career at Cincinnati, with 2021 culminating in a playoff berth for the Bearcats. They were the first non-Power Five team to make the College Football Playoffs.
During his time in Cincinnati, Ridder steadily raised his career totals in passing yards, touchdown passes, and passer rating, culminating in 2021 with a personal best.
251 of 387 attempts completed 64.9% 3 334 yards passing 8 yards passing 3 touchdowns 2 interceptions 6 yards per carry 3.2 yards per carry
The cohesive nature of the Cincinnati team is one reason why Ridder flourished there. There was a lot of buzz about the Bearcats’ defense last year, and it’s no surprise that cornerback Ahmad Gardner was selected by the Jets in the fourth round of the draft. Since good offensive line play is central to Luke Fickell’s offensive philosophy, Atlanta may be hesitant to put Ridder behind the patchwork unit it has assembled this season.
Overall, it’s obvious that Ridder is eager for his chance. Clearly, he feels strongly about this. However, this is not a year in which you should expect a major upset from the Falcons. They are patiently waiting and, truth be told, will probably use a high draft pick on a quarterback in the upcoming year. Nothing personal against Ridder, who clearly has a lot of drive and who showed significant growth while at Cincinnati. It’s the nature of the drafted service he was forced into.
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