The Atlanta Falcons and the training camp battle that never was

Desmond RidderKenny PickettMarcus MariotaPittsburgh Steelers

By Anthony Licciardi

 

The Atlanta Falcons have stumbled into a post-Matt Ryan world complete with little excitement and even lesser quality linebacker play. 

 

They’ve replaced the face of their franchise with Marcus Mariota, at least for now. Third-round rookie Desmond Ridder has drawn the eyes of Falcons faithful hoping for a new franchise quarterback to call their own.

 

Yet, Atlanta had decided to name Mariota the starter before a quarterback competition truly began. After signing a two-year, $18.75 million deal, it became clear the Falcons found their bridge quarterback. How long until they burn him?

 

When will Desmond Ridder start?

 

It seems every year, a team signs a veteran and brings in a rookie, only for the neophyte to start way ahead of schedule. While the goal is likely to start Mariota for a year and back up Ridder in 2023, we shouldn’t necessarily count on that happening.

 

History repeats itself, so we can anticipate what this upcoming season could look like.

  • Bad team, with bad quarterback, plays bad (shocker)
  • Rookie quarterback has not played, therefore has not played bad
  • The unknown quantity of the rookie becomes greater than the bad veteran quarterback
  • Rookie quarterback plays, and more often than not, is also bad

 

Mariota will start Week 1. There’s no guarantee in any week after that, and each loss will only add to the inevitable, unrelenting pressure of playing a rookie quarterback.

 

Additionally, Ridder’s profile helps his chances of finding game action. Ridder is a pro-ready quarterback who isn’t perfect (yours truly gave him a second-round grade) but can survive as things currently stand. Of course, putting him behind that Atlanta offensive line is a safety hazard and sometimes we collectively forget how difficult quarterback really is, but he’s not some intangibly-raw ball of clay.

 

While he very well could see the field in 2022, knowing the timing and success of his rookie campaign is a mere guessing game, and the odds agree. 

The Offensive Rookie of the Year award is essentially a quarterback award when applicable, and Ridder is as good as any in this class. However, DraftKings currently has him at +2500 to win the award, compared to Kenny Pickett (+900). Given the Pittsburgh Steelers’ dumpster fire of a quarterback room, Pickett will likely get a head start in the OROY race and is thus a much safer selection.