The Atlanta Falcons are making a change at quarterback again and will start Desmond Ridder next week against the New Orleans Saints, a league source confirmed. Atlanta has a bye this week. Here’s what you need to know:
- The Falcons started Taylor Heinicke in the past two games and lost both matchups.
- Ahead of Heinicke’s Nov. 5 start, coach Arthur Smith indicated the QB change from Ridder to Heinicke was not necessarily a long-term decision.
- Ridder, who began the season as Atlanta’s starter, was evaluated for a concussion in Week 8’s game against the Tennessee Titans and replaced by Heinicke at halftime.
Is this a surprise?
The move to go back to Ridder, who is 22nd in the league in passer rating (84.1), comes as little surprise after Smith’s comments during the bye week.
“There are things he has done really well as a young player,” Smith said of the 24-year-old quarterback.
Ridder, who was benched after a spate of turnovers, finished last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals game after Heinicke suffered a low-grade hamstring injury.
“I thought it was a good reset for Des,” Smith said. “Sometimes you need a fresh perspective. I think that helped him. When he got in there (against Arizona), I saw his confidence and I saw the guy that we loved coming out and wanted here.
“I always watch who wants the ball with the game on the line, and he wants the ball in his hands, that’s why we loved him coming out of Cincinnati. Pro football is going to test you in every which way, and it’s going to play out on the field.” — Josh Kendall, Falcons staff writer
A ‘healthy’ vibe in the QB room
Heinicke, who was 42nd in the league in completion percentage (55.4) and 24th in yards per attempt (6.7) since taking over the job, never indicated he felt he had earned the starting job for good. In fact, Heinicke, 30, asked Ridder to continue leading the regular Tuesday meeting with the quarterbacks and skill position players.
“I’ve been in a lot of quarterback rooms, and I am completely fortunate to be in the quarterback room I am in,” Atlanta offensive coordinator Dave Ragone said. “They are 100 percent in each other’s corners. I’m here to tell you it’s as good, as healthy, as competitive a quarterback room as I have witnessed.
“It’s not because of the coaches. It’s because of those three individuals. This does mean something to me because it can go a lot of different ways in the quarterback room. You can hear in my voice I am a little emotional about it. They have all my respect.” — Kendall
(Photo: Joe Camporeale / USA Today)