Desmond Ridder Brutally Honest About His Play Last Season — ‘I Was Playing Not To Mess It Up’

Now as a member of the Cardinals, Desmond Ridder opened up about what went wrong in Atlanta as the Falcons' starting quarterback last season.

Desmond Ridder was given the opportunity to be the Atlanta Falcons‘ starting quarterback last season, but he was very inconsistent and was benched at one point for journeyman Taylor Heinicke.

Ridder’s struggles last season prompted new head coach Raheem Morris to say at the NFL Combine that if the Falcons had better quarterback play he wouldn’t have been hired to replace Arthur Smith in the first place.

Now, Ridder is a member of the Arizona Cardinals, and in an interview with ESPN, he opened up about last season and what went wrong for him in Atlanta.

Desmond Ridder Opens Up About Last Season

Ridder played in only a couple of games in his rookie year, so he was still very inexperienced heading into last season. He was still learning how to be a professional and to be able to go out there and just play.

“One thing I wanna improve is just going out there playing free,” Ridder told ESPN in an interview. “A lot of the times, I felt like I was playing not to mess it up, not to screw it up. And so just to be able to go out there, play free, play loose, play within the system. And then there were a lot of good things that I did on film, and then there were some bad things.”

Ridder had games where he played well for extended periods but then would make a big mistake late in the game. In Ridder’s mind, the process is understanding that just one or two mistakes can be the difference in a win or a loss in a game.

“It just happened to be that those bad things outweighed the good,” Ridder told ESPN. “There was a lot of the games where it was 90% good and 10% bad, and in those 10%, that just happened to be the determining factor of the game.”

Now that he is in Arizona, what is next for Ridder’s career?

Arizona Cardinals’ Depth Chart at Quarterback

After being traded to the Cardinals last month, Ridder now has an opportunity to get his career back on track. Kyler Murray is the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Cardinals, but Ridder will be competing with Clayton Tune to be the next man up.

One thing Ridder and Tune both have that intrigued Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon is the fact they don’t have to change a ton if those guys have to play.

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“When you look at our starter, the things that he can do, you’re always looking at, ‘OK, well, if the backup goes in, how much do you have to change?'” Gannon told ESPN. “And with him and Clayton [Tune], we feel really good about not changing very much because of their skill set. So, that’s cool.”

There have been many players in the NFL who have gotten another chance on a different team and ended up thriving. While it is still too early to know what is next for Ridder, the opportunity in Arizona is a great chance to get back to playing loose and free football.

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