Despite starting in the backup role for the Atlanta Falcons' loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10, quarterback Desmond Ridder is emerging from the team's bye week back at the helm of the Falcons offense. Head coach Arthur Smith insisted Monday that Ridder will be the Falcons quarterback moving forward, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN, officially ending the short-lived Taylor Heinicke era in Atlanta.
Ridder started Atlanta's first eight games of the season, compiling a 4-4 record. Looking for a spark, the team opted to give backup Taylor Heinicke the starting nod in their Week 10 game in Arizona, but Ridder still saw action when Heinike suffered a second-half hamstring injury. Ridder was 4-for-6 with 39 yards along with three carries for 11 yards in Atlanta's 25-23 loss, but he showed enough to inspire Smith's confidence nonetheless. Smith praised Ridder's performance off the bench after the game, indicating that he'd reset from his early season struggles.
The Falcons are clinging to playoff relevancy and come off the bye week with an important game at home against the New Orleans Saints, the first of two remaining contests between the division rivals.
Ridder's first career start against the Saints in 2022 also came following the Falcons bye week. He was 13-for-26 with 97 yards passing while compiling 38 yards rushing on six carries. New Orleans won the game 21-18.
Atlanta's third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft (74th overall) has had a relatively lackluster sophomore season, compiling six touchdown passes and 1,740 yards passing including six interceptions. Ridder's 39.4 QB passer rating ranks 27th in the NFL for the 2023 season.