Falcons are 3-0 when Desmond Ridder runs at least six times

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder made good use of his legs in the 24-15 win over the Saints on Sunday.

Ridder, who returned to the starting lineup after a two-game benching, rushed seven times for 30 yards and picked up three first downs.

Ridder may need to use his legs again when the Falcons (5-6) play the Jets (4-7) at 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

“We’re just looking to keep it going,” Ridder said Wednesday. “You know with the energy and the passion that everyone played with on Sunday. We’ve got to find a way to win back-to-back games, something that we haven’t done since the first two weeks (of the season).”

Things didn’t get off to a good start on Ridder’s first run. On a fourth-and-2, he was stuffed for a loss of a yard.

His next three runs picked up 16, 12 and 6 yards and resulted in first downs. He had a loss of 3 yards and a yard before a kneel-down to end the game.

The Falcons have won all three games in which Ridder rushed the ball at least six times.

He rushed 10 times for 39 yards in a win over Green Bay on Sept. 17 and rushed six times for 38 yards in a win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 22.

But don’t expect Falcons coach Arthur Smith to turn Ridder into a triple-option quarterback.

“Yeah, there are certain defenses and some defenses spy the quarterback,” Ridder said. “They have a key to kind of keep a look. Some don’t.”

Apparently, the Saints didn’t employ a spy to keep a watch on Ridder.

“The Saints defense plays a lot of match coverage, and they’re underneath,” Ridder said. “Whether that’s (with) their linebackers or their corners underneath. So, it takes the eyes off the quarterback.”

The Falcons noticed that there might be room to run during their film study of the Saints’ defense.

“Saw that we were going to have the opportunity to use our legs (like) other quarterbacks in the past (had) against the Saints,” Ridder said.

Ridder didn’t just take off. He tried to find open receivers before pulling the ball down to scramble.

“So, it’s not something that was predetermined,” Ridder said. “It’s something that you get a feel for throughout the game.”

After looking for receivers, Ridder had to figure out the defensive line’s attack plan.

“If they are doing a whole bunch of stunts or not,” Ridder said. “Stunts (can) kind of mess that up. But, yeah it’s not predetermined, just something that goes with feel.”

Overall, Ridder has rushed 39 times for 180 yards and four touchdowns.

In college, over four seasons at Cincinnati, Ridder rushed 501 times for 2,190 yards (4.4 per carry) and 28 touchdowns.

Ridder’s experience in the zone-read offense helped on his four touchdown runs.

“It just goes (with) everything from outside the 20,” Ridder said. “It just sets up everything inside (the 20), whether it’s play-action or running it.”

Ridder credits the blocking for helping on those runs.

“It’s those five guys up front doing their job,” Ridder said. “Then when you bring the tight ends, Keith (Smith), Tucker (Fisk) and Parker (Hesse) in there and bring them into the mix. When we do the zone-read stuff, just freeing up a guy, let me read a guy and freeing it up.”

Cincinnati ran a lot of zone-read plays while Ridder was guiding the Bearcats to a 44-5 record.

“So, that’s obviously what I’ve done a lot of my career in the running game as a zone-read guy,” Ridder said. “So, obviously it’s paid off for us.”

Hesse, who was promoted from the practice squad for the game Sunday, played 23 offensive snaps (37%) to help with blocking. He was on the injured reserve/practice squad list with a back injury.

“It felt great to be back out there with the guys,” Hesse said. “Obviously being away is frustrating being hurt. Feeling like you’re a part of the team and being able to contribute, in a way, that’s what this game is about.

Hesse played in the season opener against Carolina before sustaining his back injury. He was fine with the run-heavy play-calls in the fourth quarter.

“Anytime that you can get a lead, if you can kind of impose your will, hold on to the ball and not give them a chance because you know with NFL games, there’s a lot of one-score games,” Hesse said. “Crazy stuff happens in the fourth quarter. The more that you can control the ball and not give them opportunities to make plays and bring it back to a one-score game, that’s how you close out games in the NFL.”

The Bow Tie Chronicles

About the Author