Sure, we all have seen it; Desmond Ridder, despite his leadership and potential, is an epic turnover machine. He leads the NFL in turnovers and turnovers cost you wins. You could argue that it's growing pains and that we need to see if he is the future, yet, given a 12-game sample size he is EXACTLY the definition of mediocre. His record is 6-6, his 2023 record is 4-4 thus far and he has 6 touchdowns versus 6 interceptions. Not the stuff of playoffs or winning records.
You cannot risk his psyche by starting him as you saw how shattered Malik Willis was when the Titan fanbase booed him. Every missed pass or turnover will be magnified and whatever possibility of his becoming the leader of the Falcons would be fundamentally over. But that's not the reason why Heineke needs to play.
The penultimate reason is this: Arthur Smith has hidden behind and been excuse-mongered ad nauseum for everything that has ailed the Falcons: Overbearing cap issues, which in all fairness was legitimate, lack of talent, no defense. But now with legitimate NFL talent at receiver, running back and a top-10 defense, the excuse de jour was that Desmond Ridder is the cause of an anemic offense which is 28th and averages 17 points. Not the stuff of a so-called offensive mind. Now, everything is in place to win, supposedly other than at quarterback. Not so fast.
No, now we need to see a seasoned NFL quarterback function under Smith's scattershot playcalling. I have contended all along that Heineke will only be as good as the plays being called for him; and let's face facts: Smith's playcalling has only looked competent once in his tenure, that being the Texans victory.
If Heineke flourishes and leads the team to the playoffs, then it was Ridder yet my instinct tells me that the problems begin and end with Smith. In addition to his playcalling he has an inexplicable loyalty to the returned-to-abysmal Kaleb McGary and possibly the worst center in the NFL, Drew Dalman. But again if Heineke can overcome Smith's stubbornness and stodgy playcalling, then it was Ridder all along. In any event we need to find out the truth of Arthur Smith as head coach and not the narrative of his being a good one.
An offensive coach that can't generate offense is a contradiction in of itself, would you agree?