‘I’m Sorry?’ Proof That Atlanta Falcons’ Desmond Ridder Is the Most Anonymous QB1 in Football

Xavien Howard's revealing answer about Desmond Ridder showed just how far the Atlanta Falcons QB must go to earn the respect of his peers.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Atlanta Falcons second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder surely wants to make a name for himself in the NFL. But at this point, he’d probably settle for his NFL opponents simply knowing his name.

Xavien Howard didn’t until a reporter asked him about Ridder after Tuesday’s joint practice between Ridder’s Falcons and Howard’s Miami Dolphins.

NFL Still Meeting Atlanta Falcons QB Desmond Ridder

Here’s the entire back and forth between Howard and PFN:

What do you think of Ridder?

“Ridder? I’m sorry?”

The quarterback, Desmond Ridder.

“Oh, I don’t know who that is. I’m sorry. What number?”

Nine.

“Oh, it was cool. I don’t know their names. I wasn’t looking at film. It wasn’t like I was studying them. Happy to go against them, but they did, OK. They did a good job.”

Howard’s moment of genuine confusion was revealing — and surely not unique.

If Ridder isn’t the NFL’s lowest-profile NFL starting quarterback in the league, it’s only because Sam Howell is set to start for the Washington Commanders.

Both were big names in college. Both were mid-round draft picks in the pros. And both are getting their big (and perhaps only) shot in the NFL this summer.

Ridder — the two-time AAC Offensive Player of the Year at Cincinnati who was eighth in Heisman voting in 2021 — didn’t exactly distinguish himself during Tuesday’s joint practice. But he wasn’t terrible, either.

Ridder had a couple of pretty intermediate throws to Kyle Pitts in team drills but also showed the inaccuracy that was his biggest pre-draft criticism.

Can that be fixed? It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. And with a Falcons roster more than good enough to compete in a bad NFC South, Ridder might not get the entire season to figure it out. Behind him on the bench is Taylor Heinicke, the former Commander who has a playoff start on his résumé.

Still, Falcons coach Arthur Smith was fully supportive Tuesday of Ridder, who averaged just 177 yards passing and had a total of two touchdowns in four games as a rookie.

“We put a lot of stuff on our quarterbacks, so there’s a lot of stuff we asked him to do, pre-snap,” Smith said. “I think he handles it really well. Obviously, his number one job is to move the team down the field. I think he’s done a decent job at that and keep working on all the things, all the little things, but his command has been really good.”

Added Bengals safety Jessie Bates: “I think Des does a really good job of understanding what Art wants and our concepts that we run. I think that he’s, you know, he’s been at the highest level, winning at the highest level in college football. So that kind of translates. It’s not your first time in the fire.

“He can play on time, and he can play off time. He can use his feet, which is what the game is getting to. So yeah, I’m excited to see what Des can do. You know, obviously, it is a new challenge with him being a starter from Week 1 rather than going into the middle of the year and starting. So there’s definitely going to be some learning for him, but I think he’s definitely the guy for us.”

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