Falcons OTAs Check-In: Desmond Ridder Has the Falcons Confidence, Explosive Birds, More

When the Atlanta Falcons take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, they’ll be looking to take their first swing at winning a wide-open NFC South. Tom Brady is gone, and the Buccaneers are bad. The Panthers are rebuilding, and the Derek Carr-led Saints don’t scream, “Watch out for us!” On paper, anyway. If Bryce Young starts in Week 1 for the Panthers, we’ll have a QB rematch of the 2021 Cotton Bowl in which Young’s Crimson Tide bested Desmond Ridder’s Cincinnati Bearcats.

It’s still too early to say whether Frank Reich and the Panthers will go with their quarterback of the future in Week 1 or turn to Andy Dalton. Regardless, there’s no question after this offseason that the Falcons believe they have their future quarterback.

There were plenty of options for the Atlanta Falcons at quarterback this offseason. Like every other team in the NFL, Atlanta could have made a run at Lamar Jackson. They could have signed Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency. They could have taken Will Levis or Hendon Hooker at No. 8. Heck; they could have even made a push to trade for Aaron Rodgers.

But they didn’t. The Falcons stayed committed to Ridder despite heavy criticism for the decision aplenty. That was a move that didn’t go unnoticed by Ridder, who heard the talk this offseason about the Falcons’ quarterback situation.

“It feels good,” Ridder said. “You know, knowing that they have the trust in me, knowing that I’ve put in the work and the effort as long as everyone else to go out there and lead the team. Obviously, throughout this offseason, you hear all of the talks, and just knowing from them that I have their full trust and respect, that they know that I can go out here and lead the team means everything to me.”

Ridder has the Falcons’ Confidence

Still, whether he deserves it or not remains a huge question.

Ridder’s knock coming out of Cincinnati was his accuracy. In his abbreviated 2022 campaign, Ridder completed 63.5 percent of his passes. That ranked in the bottom third of the NFL among qualified quarterbacks.

It’s May, but we already see the same issues in OTAs.

Is it OK to worry about accuracy in voluntary offseason workouts? Yeah, it is. It should be viewed as what it is: May voluntary practices. However, it’s fair to wonder whether Ridder’s accuracy has improved from last season. I know it seems overly critical, but if we can celebrate in May, we can critique.

Ridder’s development, particularly his accuracy, will be on my list of things to watch as we progress toward 2023, with training camp right around the corner. In the meantime, I will give Ridder the same benefit of the doubt that the Falcons have. I’ve been critical of Ridder this offseason. I’m having difficulty seeing him as the guy under center on a winning football team in Atlanta. However, the Falcons seem resolute in their belief in Ridder, so maybe I’ll take a step back and see how this season plays out before I write Ridder off.

As far as what that might look like, in Ridder and the Falcons’ eyes, their selection of Bijan Robinson last month should paint a good accurate picture.

The Dirty Explosive Birds?

One word that the Falcons keep using is “explosive.” On paper, it fits.

“We just want to be explosive,” said Ridder on GMFB last week. “This is a game where you have to put points on the board, and that’s what we’re looking to do as an offense.”

The backfield of Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, and Cordarelle Patterson is one of (if not the) best groups in football. Sprinkle in a healthy dose of Drake London and Kyle Pitts and a bit of Mack Collins and Jonnu Smith, and the Falcons could be cooking with gas on offense this season.

“As an offense, you look for explosive plays. You get them any way you can,” Ridder said last week. “Whether that’s from Drake [London], from Kyle [Pitts], you know, a guy like Jonnu [Smith], Mack Collins, or whatever. But then when you can hand the ball off and give it to a guy like Tyler Allgeier, Bijan [Robinson], or CP, and let them go, it just makes my job a whole lot easier. So, when they drafted Bijan, I knew this offense has something to be explosive. We can go out there in the run game, pass game, or play action; we think we’re going to be pretty explosive.”

They’ve certainly got the firepower.

Other Falcons OTA Notes

  • Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said Kyle Pitts was going through “things” last season. So a bounce-back season for Pitts could be on the way.
  • Smith also said this week during OTAs that the Falcons’ offense will feature less designed QB runs and that they could use Bijan in a Cordarelle Patterson-like role.
  • Tyler Allegeier has said that he’s excited to work with Bijan, and looks forward to becoming a more well-rounded every-down back with his help.
  • Keith Smith was arrested on traffic charges:
  • Read More

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    Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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