Do the Atlanta Falcons have a quarterback controversy?

NFL preseason, Atlanta Falcons, Desmond Ridder - Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
NFL preseason, Atlanta Falcons, Desmond Ridder - Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

For the first time in 14 years, since Matt Ryan was drafted third overall, the Atlanta Falcons might have a quarterback controversy come week one of the 2022 season.

Should veteran Marcus Mariota or rookie third-round pick Desmond Ridder be the week one starter for the Atlanta Falcons?

Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith both have not said definitively that it will be an open competition for the starting job. Conversely, in both general manager and coach speak and not in so many words, both have indicated that it will in fact be an open competition.

Fontenot recently was asked who will be the starting quarterback in week one. He did say that heading into training camp, they will have players competing at every position to make the final roster.

Without specifically coming out and saying anything about either Mariota or Ridder being the week one starter, this would indicate that a controversy may be brewing once training camp starts.

The last time there was a quarterback controversy in Atlanta was in 2008 when Matt Ryan was taken third overall in the first round. 14 years ago, many thought Ryan wasn’t ready to be the starter in week one and should have sat behind Chris Redman for at least the beginning of the season.

Not only did Matt Ryan start week in 2008 as a rookie, but he also threw a touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins on his first NFL pass. He also went on to become the greatest quarterback in team history and should be a future Hall of Famer.

Without Fontenot or Smith publicly declaring either Mariota or Ridder as the hands-down starter for opening day, this clearly indicates that Ridder has a shot to win the job.

Reading between the lines, Ridder clearly has a shot to win the job if he performs well in training camp and plays well in the preseason. Keep in mind that many draft analysts and pundits declared that Ridder is the most NFL-ready quarterback to come out of the 2022 quarterback draft class.

Therefore, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Ridder could be the starting quarterback in week one for the Atlanta Falcons. Whether or not that comes to fruition this season, is another story.

Realistically, this probably won’t happen. The Falcons need to be patient, take their time and not throw Ridder into the fire initially and right off the bat.

Being a proven winner in college at Cincinnati with a 44-6 record does not automatically translate to becoming a winning and successful starting quarterback from day one in the NFL. It is a major adjustment for any position, specifically at the quarterback position where the NFL game speeds up and defenses are a lot more complex than they were in college.

If both Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot feel as though Ridder blows away the competition, and wows the coaching staff in both training camp and preseason ahead of Mariota, then he very well could be the starting quarterback week one. More than likely, this won’t come to fruition.

Marcus Mariota will most likely be the starter in week one, given his pedigree and experience. How long this lasts throughout the season, we shall see.

Factors such as injury and performance will play into this for Mariota. He is both comfortable and familiar with Arthur Smith’s offense from Tennessee, which gives him the upper hand over Ridder, who has yet to take an NFL snap.

It will be very interesting to see how everything plays out. The Atlanta Falcons will not be competing for a Super Bowl this upcoming season and more than likely, not even a playoff spot.

Desmond Ridder will have his work cut out for him. He will have to earn the starting quarterback job from day one in training camp, which will not be an easy feat.

Mariota can groom Ridder, mentor him and take him under his wing. Learning from Mariota and sitting on the bench for at the very least the majority of the season will be the best learning experience for Ridder.

Only time will tell, though. Either way, there should not be high expectations in 2022 for the Atlanta Falcons, especially at the quarterback position come week one.