Georgia

Start Rookie Desmond Ridder at Quarterback for the Rest of 2022

After a surprisingly strong start to the 2022 season, what’s the best way to rebuild Atlanta? Will the Falcons give Desmond Ridder a chance to start as quarterback or will they continue with Marcus Mariota?

The Atlanta Falcons may soon find themselves in a position to choose between a franchise cornerstone defense (Will Anderson, Jalen Carter) or a centerpiece at the quarterback position (CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis). While it would be a difficult decision to do so, it is an enviable position nonetheless.

Before that decision is thrown at the feet of the Falcons’ front office, the organization owes 2022 third-round pick Desmond Ridder a fair shot to see if he has the potential as a starting quarterback for the future of the franchise. There’s little pressure to win games this season, which is an inviting situation for a rookie.

The team didn’t invest a Premium pick in Ridder, but they liked him enough to take him to Round 3, so there’s reason to believe he’ll get a chance soon. There’s only one way to find out what you’ve got with Ridder, and that’s through the on-pitch experience.

Veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota has put in an admirable performance and maintained his roster in every single game they played in 2022. He’s making the most of another opportunity to start in the NFL, but this isn’t the best path for head coaches Arthur Smith and Atlanta to take.

The Falcons are setting the tone for the foundation of their build this season, so why not see if your rookie quarterback will be a part of it? If Desmond Ridder proves capable behind center, the team can look to improve elsewhere around him without feeling compelled to take a specific position.

Nearly a year away from trading franchise icon Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons may already have their long-term backup quarterback on the list. Like Ryan, Desmond Ridder came to the NFL with plenty of starting experience in college. In fact, Ridder won a whopping 44 games for the Cincinnati Bearcats.

He joined the Atlanta organization with a chip on his shoulder, feeling disrespected by the league for allowing him to fall as far as he did. The former Bearcat signal caller showed himself hungry to prove himself, and he did just that in offseason workouts and preseason action.

Ridder looked like a consummate pro as he led his team into battle in preseason. He started shakily when the games started but settled in soon after, even leading a game-winning drive against the Detroit Lions. It was just a glimpse of what could be, but Falcons fans haven’t forgotten.

What if Desmond Ridder in a weak NFC is just what the Falcons need to spark a shocking playoff run? Some might scoff at this idea, but the only way to really know is to throw Ridder in the fire and see what happens.

I’m not advocating for the team to tank, but being mediocre isn’t an optimal outcome for a franchise in the early stages of a rebuild. Hopping into a seven-win season wouldn’t feel like being a competitive roster with a rookie quarterback at the helm.

There’s no denying that the team is competitive at the moment, but one could argue that finding out whether or not rookie Desmond Ridder has starter potential is more beneficial long-term than hoping to pull a rabbit out of a hat if Marcus Mariota is somehow leading the team to the NFL playoffs in January.

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