Falcons’ Desmond Ridder on the offense: ‘We’ll continue to get better’

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder has directed 23 offensive possessions, and the offense has scored five touchdowns and four field goals.

Three of the drives were at the end of the second or fourth quarters. If you toss those out, the Falcons scored points on nine of the other 20 drives in the first two games this season, while the offense is still finding its identity.

“I feel like we’ll continue to get better,” Ridder said.

The Falcons have established Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier as rushing threats. In the passing game, Ridder has moved the ball around to six receivers, seven if you count the pass he caught on his first attempt against Carolina.

In the opener, Ridder basically checked the ball down to the running backs and hit tight end Kyle Pitts down the field late for a big 34-yard gain. Against the Packers, the Falcons opened the game, getting wide receiver Drake London involved.

London, who didn’t catch his one target in the opener, finished with six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Mack Hollins had three catches for 60 yards, including Ridder’s career-long of 45 yards.

Pitts was the odd man out against the Packers, with two catches on five targets for 15 yards. Ridder pointed out that he was grateful that the Packers’ Jaire Alexander and Quay Walker dropped potential interceptions.

“Whether it’s communication, to almost having two picks, or whatever it may be, there are a lot of things that we can go back and we (can) improve on,” Ridder said.

The Falcons have outscored the opposition 27-0 in the fourth quarter, including 13-0 against the Packers to overcome a 12-point deficit.

“What we were able to do in the fourth quarter against a very good opponent ... our ability as offense (came through),” Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone said. “You love the way that the mentality that we ended up playing with to go end out the game.”

The Falcons hope they don’t need a fourth-quarter rally Sunday against the Lions.

“The biggest thing that I’m going to harp to these guys is just making sure that we’re not getting comfortable, not being complacent in where we’re at,” Ridder said. “So, when we come out here, we’re always improving, always looking for something to get better at, because we know Detroit’s coming off a tough loss.”

The Falcons don’t believe it’s an accident that they’ve been strong in the fourth quarter.

“I think that’s the practice and everything that we do as soon as we come into this building in May or April,” Ridder said. “Our conditioning and just being able to finish. Just practicing as hard as we can go every single play.”

The Falcons have discussed practicing hard and having that carry over into games.

“I think you get into these fourth-quarter situations, and I feel like our team is one of the most better-conditioned teams in the (NFL),” Ridder said. “We go out there and just try to wear them down. We wear them down in the first through third quarters, so that when we get to the fourth, we’re able to keep a certain dominance.”

Ridder hoped they can continue to execute at a high level in the fourth quarter.

“Finish is huge for us,” Ridder said. “Every single position has a finish. What you’re graded on is how we finished during practice. How we finished during the game.”

After opening the season with a win over the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs, the Lions lost their home opener 37-31 to Seattle in overtime Sunday.

“We know that’s their environment, what they’ve preached, what they’ve been taught over this past year of what they want to be and who they want to be,” Ridder said. “So, we know it’s going to be a battle. We know it’s going to be a tough fight. We have to become prepared for that.”

The Falcons hope to continue to build off the rushing attack which amassed 211 yards against the Packers.

“We never want to play from behind, but … we’re never out of it,” Ridder said. “This whole team knows that we’re going to fight to the finish, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams.”

The Falcons believe the passing game will work itself out.

“I feel like we’re in a great spot of just being able to go do that, but also being able to line up and go call the same plays that we called last week and be able to go execute it,” Ridder said.

The Falcons plan to be ready for the Lions.

“Can you account for every situation? That’s impossible,” Ragone said. “There are going to be things that come up that you’re going to sit there and go, next (time), you (can) learn from experience.”

The Falcons liked that Ridder didn’t let the two near interceptions bother him.

“I’ve been a part of it when you dwell on things and you can’t move on,” Ragone said. “The quarterback, especially him, is thinking about the last play. It’s hard to play the position if you’re thinking about the last play … and not looking forward to the next play. That’s the mentality for all players, not just the quarterback.”

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