Falcons finally glimpse what Desmond Ridder could become

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Just as it was reckless to assume too much about quarterback Desmond Ridder after his sloppy first start, it would be reckless to crown him a franchise savior after a promising afternoon.

Of course, the Atlanta Falcons couldn’t keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens in the worst winter crowds. Ridder didn’t look so bad, though. While the team never reached the end zone, it may have reached some new pockets of optimism that this Ridder kid might be on the right track. If they can get two more weeks of this, the Falcons could be cooking on gas.

Ridder’s Saturday won’t earn him Hall of Fame honors. They also won’t remind many people of his performance the previous Sunday. Though he looked like a struggling rookie in that competition, he arrived in Baltimore looking like a different guy once he settled down.

Played with confidence. He began to see the field a little better than he had the week before. He started hitting some of his longer shots. His chemistry with Drake London produced two amazing throw and catch. He was leading the charge down the field and rising for key moments, including yet another fourth down pass that London unfortunately fumbled. It looked like his game against the Saints was a warm-up, and this was his real debut.

During the first quarter against Baltimore, Ridder looked too nervous to really make anything happen. For the rest of the game, he really looked like an NFL quarterback.

For the first time since joining the team, he gave this coaching staff an actual game tape that they could show Arthur Blank in the offseason to justify making him the top candidate to start next fall. Even as the team continues to slide down the draft order, Ridder’s tempting second start could be the spark to help defend its future in Atlanta.

There are a lot of “ifs, es and buts” floating around Ridder. One game won’t cement your NFL career any more than one game will hurt you. If he looks rattled, well, he only started two NFL games on a mediocre team. If he already looked promising, well, this regime didn’t just summon him to hold a clipboard.

The Falcons saw something in Ridder that made them think he could become a significant starting quarterback one day, maybe even a franchise. On Saturday, he gave them some hope that they might have figured something out.

Not to be hyperbolic, but his game in Baltimore was much better than his in New Orleans. You saw him eliminate some of those rookie mistakes that plagued him against the Saints. He wasn’t perfect, but perfection is unattainable for someone in Ridder’s shoes. He literally became an NFL starter this month.

The fact that he was able to enter a hostile environment like Baltimore in this time against This one defense, and keeping your own, says a lot. That doesn’t mean he’s the next Patrick Mahomes – which he is, really – but it could mean he’ll adapt to that process a lot more quickly than his first game indicated.

When you make those important shots and keep your composure under such difficult circumstances, you inspire some hope. There’s still a lot ahead for Ridder. He has a lot to work on. He won’t be averse to some ugly highlights, but he already has some great ones too. He’s still a prospect, but he showed moments on Saturday that made you think he really could be someone. Even though the Falcons didn’t come away with a win against the Ravens, they did come away with a win. A lot of a better idea of ​​what life would be like with Ridder behind the center.

It didn’t seem too bad, all things considered.

We’ll see exactly what happens before next fall. God knows this process can be impossible to predict. Ridder’s next test, a home game against Trace McSorley or the Colt McCoy Cardinals, will be revealing. The Falcons would certainly love to go into the 2023 offseason without having to stress about the quarterback spot. Ridder’s pledge won’t stop them from pursuing an alternative veteran option, but it might make them feel good about passing this draft class. If Ridder goes back to being a pumpkin against Arizona, well, then we’ll have another discussion.

However, in the freezing cold against a playoff team, Ridder didn’t falter. He did just about everything he possibly could to get the team as far as possible. Whether this will be enough in the long term remains to be seen. For now, it felt like opening a present on Christmas morning.