On the Falcons’ hot seat Sunday: What must Desmond Ridder do to keep his job?

FLOWERY BRANCH — Teams are daring the Falcons to throw the football, and in the past two games they have not connected on enough passes to make them pay.

Quarterback Desmond Ridder, who’s starting his ninth game in the NFL, will be on the hot seat when the Falcons (2-2) host the Houston Texans (2-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“They’ve got wide receivers if they use them,” Houston safety Jimmie Ward told Chancellor Johnson of KPRC 2 in Houston. “I don’t think they are trying to pass the ball. They are trying to out-physical teams and run the ball. We are going to have a tough task stopping them from running the ball.”

Ward, 32, is a veteran in his first season with Houston after playing the past nine seasons with the 49ers. He didn’t play last season when the Falcons mauled the 49ers, 28-14, at home Oct. 16, 2022.

“I saw what they (did) to San Fran last year,” Ward said. “San Fran went down there and they ran the ball. Beat them up pretty bad. I already know they are going to stick to the run for sure.”

Ridder opened the season with his highest passer rating (111.8) of his career in the win over the Panthers. He posted declining numbers of 79.9, 70.2 and 62.7 in the subsequent three games. His career low was 59.3 in his first game against the Saints last season.

The Falcons have averaged 156.3 yards passing per game, which ranks last in the NFL. They finished 31st in the league in passing last season, with 158.8 yards per game.

Ridder needs to start connecting in the passing game or the Falcons are going to see plenty of players near the line of scrimmage – loaded boxes – for the rest of the season.

“I think you look at everything week to week,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “To predict the future, I mean, you never know what’s going on down the road. You try to have predictable behaviors and things you see, but you’ve always got to able to pivot.”

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