Team owner Arthur Blank spoke to the media ahead of the Super Bowl, a popular spot for owners, general managers and coaches to start guiding the offseason narrative. Blank is no stranger to these media frenzy periods and he’s always armed with some talking points. After all, the team owner needs to drum up excitement during the next six football-less months.
Nearly a year ago to the day, Blank talked to the media ahead of the Rams-Bengals Super Bowl with some expectations that didn’t quite materialize. Matt Ryan didn’t stay, the team didn’t do what “great franchises” do and put in place a transition plan, but that sure looked to be the plan before the Deshaun Watson catastrophe.
This year, Blank is talking all about Desmond Ridder. The third-round rookie started only four games at the end of the 2022 season, a very short window to evaluate a position as complicated as a quarterback. Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot have been tight lipped about their plans. Like is the plan for Ridder to be a cheap backup vs. a potential starter?
Blank started to fill in those gaps while lavishing some praise on Ridder, per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.
“We’re very excited about Desmond Ridder. I think from the time he came into training camp, he showed great capabilities as a leader amongst the rookies and then amongst the vets.”
Blank heaped some additional praise on Ridder, who has not yet been named starter. It would be an unusual plan if the team wanted to go after Lamar Jackson via trade or Will Levis in the draft. Blank could instead be talking about first-round pick Drake London or the return of Kyle Pitts, not a guy expected to be a backup.
Blank had more to say to the team’s media group, per Ashton Edmunds.
“I love our young quarterback. I know he only played four games but the trend line during those four games was all good. He didn’t throw the ball to the other team which is a huge factor in winning games. He’s not color blind, so I feel good about where we are and I think our fans should feel that way, honestly.”
In fact, Blank said he loves Ridder, which is something we never saw him say about Matt Schaub. Blank also talked up the team’s progress, cap space, and rebuilding, but Ridder is one player he talked up in multiple interviews. Blank is certainly well aware of offseason plans, players and positions Terry Fontenot wants to focus on, draft strategy, free agency options, and the like — he’s certainly not talking as a well-meaning outsider.
While things are always subject to change (see: 2022), the plan looks like Ridder will get the opportunity to start in 2023.