Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder will make his preseason debut against the Detroit Lions on Friday night. The Falcons’ coaching staff and front office are excited to evaluate Ridder’s play. Ridder will be the second rookie quarterback to make his debut this week following Malik Willis‘ electric yet inconsistent performance against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint, but all eyes will be on Ridder. We’re excited to watch Ridder in action against the Lions. We’ve identified three traits we’d love to see Ridder display on Friday.
TAKE GOOD CARE OF THE FOOTBALL
While Ridder was far from a turnover machine at Cincinnati, his decisions with the ball can be overly aggressive. Ridder sometimes failed to account for leveraged defenders as a Bearcat. Ridder threw 28 interceptions across four seasons in college (an average of seven per season). Ridder threw eight interceptions in 2021. Ridder also fumbled on 36 occasions despite possessing 10-inch hands, via Pro Football Focus.
Ridder must protect the football with better results at the professional level. Making good, consistent decisions is the desired outcome. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith will feel an increased amount of confidence about moving forward with Marcus Mariota as his starting quarterback should the Lions’ defense force Ridder into a couple giveaways. Ridder must identify viable opportunities against a hungry Lions secondary and play a turnover-free contest.
SHOWCASE CHEMISTRY WITH DRAKE LONDON
As excited as we are to watch Ridder, that excitement is matched for rookie wide receiver Drake London. Mariota may begin the season as Atlanta’s starter under center, but Ridder and London are the future faces of the Falcons franchise. All indications are that Ridder and London have showcased strong chemistry when afforded opportunities to take reps together at Falcons camp, but carrying that momentum over to their first NFL contest would put a stamp on the relationship the young playmakers are currently building.
The Falcons are hoping to witness strong communication between Ridder and London on Friday. It’s imperative the quarterback-receiver pairing are on the same page. When targeting London, Ridder should be efficient and on schedule. London should run crisp routes while reaching his destination on time. The Falcons’ fan base is going to explode if Ridder and London enjoy strong debuts.
LET HIS ATHLETICISM SHINE
Ridder is an excellent athlete that can get outside the pocket and make plays happen outside of structure. Smith runs an offense that prioritizes getting his quarterback on the move while manipulating the eyes of opposing defenders. It’s partially why Smith enjoyed so much success with Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. Ridder earned comparisons to Tannehill throughout the pre-draft process, making him an ideal fit for Smith’s system. Because of his dual-threat ability, Atlanta’s entire playbook is available for Ridder’s offense thanks to a lack of physical limitations.
Ridder ran for a total of 2,180 yards and 28 touchdowns at Cincinnati. Ridder’s legs add an additional layer to an already intriguing skill set. He’s an exceptional runner who showcases vision, athleticism, toughness, and a willingness to break tackles and run through defenders. Ridder’s knack for escaping pressure and rushing for positive yardage is something that makes him tough to defend against. It’s an athletic trait he should fully embrace as he continues acclimating to the next level.
- Sep 30, 2022
- Sep 30, 2022