Jan 8, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (4) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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Arthur Smith: Desmond Ridder is Falcons QB1

What seemed to be implied and assumed in Atlanta has now been stated out loud and made official by Falcons head coach Arthur Smith — Desmond Ridder is the team’s QB1.

“The plan is to start Desmond,” Smith said Tuesday. “That’s our plan going forward right now.”

Smith made the proclamation from the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.

The Falcons signed Taylor Heinicke to a two-year, $20 million deal earlier this month, but even he knew what his role would be — QB2.

“We’re very excited to have Taylor in the room, a guy with experience who has won games in this league,” Smith said. “The chemistry in the quarterback room is important, as we expect Desmond to take the next step. But we also have a guy who can go in and win you football games and be ready to play.”

Ridder, 23, went 2-2 as a rookie starter in 2022, taking over for Marcus Mariota, who opened the season as the starter. Ridder completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 708 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions after being selected in the third round of the 2022 draft out of Cincinnati.

“I thought he made significant improvement from each start,” Smith said. “We expect him to make another leap this offseason. There are always things you can work on, with lower body mechanics. He can get more comfortable – when you don’t change systems that helps, too. We expect significant growth from him.”

Heinicke, 29, started 24 games over the past two seasons and posted a 12-11-1 record as the replacement for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Carson Wentz in Washington.

The Falcons also have quarterbacks Logan Woodside and Feleipe Franks on the roster.

–Field Level Media

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