It mightn’t be Ridder. He was taken 54 picks after Pickett. In this century, the list of successful NFL quarterbacks drafted in Round 3 begins with Russell Wilson and ends with Nick Foles. The Falcons landed Ridder not as the answer but as a possibility. There’s a chance they’ll take another quarterback in Round 1 come April. There’s a chance Ridder’s audition lasts four games.
There’s also a chance he’s the guy. The Falcons couldn’t let this season end without taking a look-see, not after they lost four of five and saw their playoff chances shrink to 2.6%, per ESPN’s football power index. Had the Falcons still been leading the world’s worst division, they couldn’t have changed quarterbacks. For a team that needs to be in full-blown transition, 5-8 works just fine.
“There’s no situation,” coach Arthur Smith said last month when asked about quarterbacks. “There has never been a situation.” To be fair, Smith wasn’t under oath.
Also to be fair, the Falcons were then 4-6 with three apparently winnable games awaiting. (They’d just lost to Carolina, a most winnable game.) October ended with the Falcons in first place. They weren’t ready to pull the plug. After losing at home to the 4-7 Steelers and with two weeks until they play again, they became ready.
In the grand scheme, the 2022 Falcons have been lucky. They weren’t bad enough to render the entire season unwatchable – seeing them find ways to keep games close has been fascinating, at least to yours truly – but they’re not so good they can be accused of conceding with the playoffs in sight.
But who knows? Given the state of this division, having a quarterback who can complete a 20-yard pass might lift the Falcons above Tampa Bay, which has the greatest QB ever but is lucky to be 6-6.
Maybe the rookie Ridder will start a playoff game come January, but that’s not why the Falcons are changing quarterbacks. They’re changing quarterbacks because they need a quarterback. If he’s on their roster, they’re set. If not, that becomes Job 1. That’s the situation. It has always been the situation.
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