Smith: Ridder Slated to be Falcons’ Starting Quarterback

The Atlanta Falcons gave second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder a confidence boost on Tuesday. At the NFL owners’ meetings, coach Arthur Smith committed to the 2021 third-round pick as the team’s starter in 2023.

“I thought he made significant improvement from each start,” Smith said. “We expect him to make another leap this offseason. There are always things you can work on, with lower body mechanics. He can get more comfortable – when you don’t change systems that helps, too. We expect significant growth from him.”

Smith refused to address any rumors the team was pursuing Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson saying, “we are going to talk about our own players.” Jackson, who publicly requested a trade on Monday, has long been rumored as an option for the Falcons. However, Atlanta has gone out of its way to deny those rumors.

The Falcons were one of the first teams to declare they wouldn’t pursue Jackson when the Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on the former MVP, and Tuesday’s comments reinforced Atlanta’s belief in Ridder.

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Robert Smith, an analyst for The 33rd Team, has long believed Atlanta committing to Ridder for 2023 is the right move.

“You’ve got, I believe, the answer at quarterback in Desmond Ridder,” Smith said earlier this offseason. “You’ve got a solid offensive line, and you’ve got two really good pass catchers in Drake London and Kyle Pitts.”

Ridder started the final four games of the 2022 regular season, finishing with a 2-2 record after taking over for Marcus Mariota. The former Cincinnati Bearcat completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 708 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

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