Desmond Ridder has been less than stellar early this season as the Atlanta Falcons‘ starting quarterback.
Those struggles continued early in Sunday morning’s London showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars, raising questions about whether the second-year signal-caller is capable of being Atlanta’s answer of the future at QB.
The Falcons’ confidence in the quarterback remained to start the second half Sunday, but how long will that last if his struggles persist?
Desmond Ridder’s Struggles Persist for Atlanta Falcons
It’s been an up-and-down start to the 2023 NFL season for Ridder, who came into Sunday having completed 55 of 88 pass attempts for 553 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
The 2022 third-round draft pick started Atlanta’s last four games of the 2022 season after sitting behind Marcus Mariota for the year’s first 13 contests. Ridder was not exactly a world-beater in those appearances either, going 73 of 115 for 708 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions as the Falcons went 2-2 down the stretch.
As for Sunday’s game, the former standout Cincinnati Bearcat struggled in the first half against the Jaguars, as he completed 9 of 14 passes for 73 yards but tossed two costly interceptions.
The first pick ended Atlanta’s most promising first-half drive as Darious Williams intercepted a pass and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown. Then another turnover came as Andre Cisco snagged Ridder’s pass on the first play of the Falcons’ next drive.
To his credit, Ridder started the second half strong by leading an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Drake London.
Still, questions remain about whether Ridder is the Falcons’ longterm solution at quarterback.
Where Else Can Atlanta Turn?
The Falcons seem comfortable to stick with Ridder after a 2-1 start, but his leash could quickly shorten if the aforementioned struggles begin translating to losses.
Atlanta does have a capable backup option in sixth-year signal-caller Taylor Heinicke, should they decide to bench Ridder. The former undrafted free agent was solid in nine starts for the Washington Commanders last season, completing 161 of 259 pass attempts for 1,859 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions.
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Free agent quarterbacks such as Colt McCoy, Carson Wentz, and longtime Falcons starter Matt Ryan could also be brought in if Atlanta doesn’t feel comfortable with their current options.
One thing seems certain, though — Atlanta needs better quarterback play to have significant success this season.