Arizona Cardinals quarterback Desmond Ridder has had an interesting career in the NFL so far to say the least as he was traded from the Atlanta Falcons on March 14. In an interview with Josh Weinfuss of ESPN, Ridder is candid when talking about his time with the Falcons, his new opportunity with the Cardinals, and what he wants to improve on heading in to the fall.

Ridder was drafted in the third round in the 2022 draft where he saw early game time action when he filled in for starting quarterback Marcus Mariota at the time after the first four games of his rookie season. This past year was filled with more inconsistent play as he split time with Taylor Heinicke as the starter until he was traded away as he expressed the biggest aspect of improvement “is just going out there playing free.”

“One thing I wanna improve is just going out there playing free,” Ridder said. “A lot of the times I felt like I was playing not to mess it up, not to screw it up. And so just to be able to go out there, play free, play loose, play within the system. And then there were a lot of good things that I did on film and then there were some bad things. It just happened to be that those bad things outweighed the good. There was a lot of the games where it was 90 percent good and 10 percent bad, and in those 10 percent, that just happened to be the determining factor of the game.”

A quote from a former quarterback stuck with Ridder

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) passes against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Caesars Superdome.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one phrase that has stuck with Ridder throughout his young career, it's an interview with former quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who talked about stepping for an injured Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints. The current Cardinals signal-caller would say that saying stuck with him even before he stepped in the league.

“He got injured, and I wasn't prepared and it humbled me,” Bridgewater said, according to The Times-Picayune. “It taught me a valuable lesson. We always talk about staying ready, but I wasn't ready in that moment.”

“That kind of stuck with me, you know, even before I was in the league,” Ridder said regarding Bridgewater's outlook. “And that's just one thing that stuck with me, and I'll always prepare as if I'm the starter.”

Ridder hearing criticism from current Falcons coach

While Ridder gets a fresh start with the Cardinals in competing for the backup job to Kyler Murray, he is reminded of his time with Atlanta as new head coach Raheem Morris was honest about the quarterback play in the season prior. He would say “If we had better quarterback play, I'm probably not standing here at this podium,” which is “tough” as Ridder put it.

“Obviously that's tough,” Ridder said via ESPN. “But as a quarterback and as any team sports player, it's not all on one person. So, the outside world and whoever it may be, can pin it all on one person, but it's a team sport. I didn't play 10 percent of those games very well, but I also wasn't the only one out there.

“For me to be able to go out there and just learn from it,” Ridder continued. “Be able to go out there and be better from it, I think that's what's gonna help me in the long run in my career and my longevity. So, you can't really control what other people say, but you can control how you respond and what you go do.”

The motto of “staying ready” has stuck with Ridder and should be a strong motivation to obtain the backup role and be a reliable player for Arizona. One of the aspects he learned is that “all it takes is one play” and in the short time one play takes to initiate, anything can happen, so “you have to be ready.”

“What you gotta learn is that all it takes is one play,” Ridder said. “Four to six seconds is the average length of a play, and that's how quick you can become the starter again. So, you have to be ready.”

Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon “feel really good” about Ridder

Last year with the Falcons, he threw for 2,836 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions as he came out of the University of Cincinnati. If there is one person that has Ridder's support, it's Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon who also mentions the other quarterback who will be competing to be the backup in Clayton Tune.

“When you look at our starter, the things that he can do, you're always looking at, ‘OK, well if the backup goes in, how much do you have to change?'” Gannon said. “And with him and Clayton [Tune], we feel really good about not changing very much because of their skillset. So, that's cool.”

While people are most likely ready to write off Ridder, Gannon disagrees as being a backup quarterback is crucial. Especially with the injury history of Murray and the length of the season, “the importance of that position…has gone up the last couple of years.”

“I mean, all positions are important, but I think especially that one because the guy doesn't typically get a ton of reps, especially as the season gets rolling on, that position's important,” Gannon said. “And I think the importance of that position on your roster has gone up, up, up the last couple years here.”

The Cardinals are looking to bounce back after a horrid season where they were 4-13 and last in their own division. They look to get back a fully healthy Kyler Murray and a top draft choice in the upcoming draft.