TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 22: Desmond Ridder #9 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 22, 2023 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Falcons Bench Desmond Ridder After Lethargic Performance vs Titans

It's finally happened: Desmond Ridder has been benched.

After the Atlanta Falcons scored just three points in the first half, trialing 14-3 against the Tennessee Titans, head coach Arthur Smith has finally made the change that fantasy football players across America have been clamoring for all year, as Taylor Heinicke is in at quarterback.

Ridder was a modest 8-of-12 passing for 71 yards in the first half, not his worst performance but surely the straw that broke the camel's back after a terrible start to the year. He's put a damper on an offense that is otherwise very talented, with skill weapons like Drake London and Bijan Robinson on the field, and Heinicke will at least be a capable bus driver, as he's shown in the past he can be.

The Falcons defense has also been better than expected, so the team is 4-3 and has a good chance to win the division, but it's been clear for quite some time that they need better play at the game's most important position if they are to be a postseason threat.

Of passers who had thrown more than 161 passes coming into week eight, Ridder was dead last in PFF's grading system. His ratio of big time throws to turnover worthy plays was an abhorrent six to 15, the latter of which is the league's highest total despite Ridder ranking just 15th in total passes attempted.

We'll have to wait and see if the change carries into next week, or if Ridder will step back into the starting job after taking a deep breath and a step back this week. Smith has shown his hand, and has an enormous choice to make going forward, so it will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. Atlanta is a team that has every ability to win their division and host a playoff game, which would of course feature the winner of this suddenly-open QB battle, making the stakes extremely high for Heinicke as he auditions.

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