The NFC South has not been must-watch television this year, as each team sits at .500 or below. With that in mind, though, it has led to the race for the top spot in the division being extremely close. The Atlanta Falcons, who sit at 5-8, are second in the division behind the 6-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have lost two of their last three games by a total of nine points, Marcus Mariota was efficient enough to start the season but as of late hasn’t been. With playoff hopes on the line, it was time for a quarterback switch.
Finally, the Falcons rookie quarterback, Desmond Ridder, gets his chance to lead the team in Week 15 after their bye week. During his four seasons in college at Cincinnati, he finished completing 62.1% of his passes for 10,239 yards, 87 touchdowns, 28 interceptions, and had 2,169 rushing yards.
With the dual-threat ability, Ridder has a similar style of play as Mariota did, but Ridder also can open up the passing attack more than Mariota. Throughout the season, Mariota has struggled with consistency, frequently overthrowing receivers and throwing interceptions in must-score situations. This play was costing the Falcons crucial wins.
Now comes Ridder, who showed promise already for the Falcons when he played in the preseason. He was extremely accurate in all three games, completing 34-of-56 passes for 431 yards, three touchdowns, only two interceptions, and running eight times for 58 yards. In the Falcons’ run heavy system, his ability to either throw on the run or take off himself will be extremely essential. The most important thing was how he remained poised in high-pressure situations with the game on the line. This was shown in his preseason game against the Detroit Lions when they were down three in the fourth quarter with less than two minutes to go and Ridder threw a touchdown pass to Jared Bernhardt to win it.
The @AtlantaFalcons take a late lead! 😱
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2022
Ridder is going to provide a boost to this Falcons offense. This boost could be just enough to help the Falcons squeak into a playoff spot. Even if Ridder struggles, this gives the Falcons a chance to see if they truly have their franchise quarterback. This was the right move for the team.