Desmond Ridder got the chance to start four games for the Atlanta Falcons in his rookie season. It appears he’ll be starting a lot more games in Year 2.
In an interview with NFL Network, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said he was impressed by what he saw from Ridder in his rookie season and confirmed that he’ll be under center in Week 1 next season.
“I thought he improved week after week,” Smith said about Ridder. “He was very effective on third and fourth down, and you saw those last two weeks the growth he made from his first start to really his third and fourth. We’re excited about it. And we know Taylor [Heinicke] coming in is a guy that gives you a chance to win. He understands his role with the plan to go into the season with Desmond as our starter.”
Smith also said had Ridder looked better than Marcus Mariota — who started at quarterback the first 13 games of the season — in the summer, he would’ve given the rookie the starting nod.
Ridder started the last four games of the season for the Falcons; they went 2-2 in those games. He totaled 708 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, zero interceptions and an 86.4 passer rating, while completing 63.5% of his passes.
The Falcons selected Ridder with the No. 74 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati, where he was the school’s primary quarterback from 2018-21.
Atlanta cut Mariota this offseason, while signing Heinicke — who spent the last three seasons with the Washington Commanders — to a two-year deal.
Atlanta went 7-10 last season, good for last in the NFC South by way of a three-way tiebreaker.
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