On Wednesday, Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith announced that the team would be moving QB Desmond Ridder to the bench and will start Taylor Heinicke this week. Smith was careful to say that Heinicke is playing "this week," which I'm sure is him trying to prevent a massive uproar over benching his original starter in Ridder.
This is a major move by the Falcons who are 4-4 and right in the think of both an NFC Wild Card spot and a NFC South division title. The NFC South might be the worst division in football, as each of the four teams have huge weaknesses. Well, quarterback is a huge weakness for each team in the division, and the Falcons are the first team in the NFC South to make a QB change.
Ridder goes to the bench, for now, and Heinicke will be inserted as the starter. There is something to be said about investing into a high-end backup, which is what the Falcons did by signing Heinicke, but it also goes to a deeper issue in Ridder not taking that next step and the Falcons clearly not having a franchise QB on their roster.
I do personally think that Atlanta should have made a move at QB at the deadline. I'm not sure if Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans was available, but he and Arthur Smith worked wonders in Tennessee for a bit as Tannehill was one of the most productive QBs in football during that time. For now, though, the Falcons seem to be turning to Heinicke, who is better and more experienced than Desmond Ridder, a second-year QB who seems to profile as a QB2 now and in the future.
Atlanta took a brutal loss to the Titans last week. Ridder went to the bench in that game, so the writing seemed to be on the wall for him to eventually remain there for some time. I do think the Falcons are a team who could also make a huge move for a QB in 2024. They've already probably won too many games to get a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and if Arthur Smith remains as the HC beyond this year, he'll probably have a "playoffs or bust," make or break type of year in '24.
We'll see what happens with the Falcons, but one thing is certain; this team needs to make a big move at QB next offseason.