Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder has impressed through two preseason games, displaying good accuracy and mobility.
During Monday night's 24-16 loss to the New York Jets, head coach Arthur Smith looked visibly frustrated on the sideline at a few of the rookie's decisions and the slew of team penalties.
Smith offered some tough love for the rookie, noting that his hard coaching of the quarterback comes with raised expectations.
"I got high expectations for Desmond," Smith said. "So, we're going to be hard on Desmond, 'cause he's a good player, and he can take that kind of coaching. And he understands, we're not waiting on him as a rookie, we're trying to speed him up. He made some good throws. There's some stuff he has to clean up, especially on the operation."
A third-round pick out of Cincinnati, Ridder displayed stellar accuracy Monday night, going 10-of-13 for 143 yards during the second quarter, leading two field-goal drives. He did miss a couple of throws, and the Falcons' drives were characterized by penalties when the rookie was under center. Overall, Ridder has looked good through two preseason games.
"But we kind of hurt ourselves right there in the second quarter," Ridder said. "Getting good drives and then coming back and getting self-inflicted penalties. That starts with me and goes to the (offensive) linemen and everyone else. I think we'll learn from it."
The caveat is that he's faced only backups through two games, not the starting units -- the backup units of the lowly Lions and Jets, at that. But the traits that had some excited about Ridder during the draft process -- accuracy, intelligence, mobility -- have all been on display.
The rookie isn't a threat to veteran Marcus Mariota at this stage, but if the Falcons stumble out of the gate, Ridder's preseason play will give Smith a reason to move to the rookie earlier in the 2022 season.
Last year we saw third-round pick Davis Mills struggle early after being thrust into duty before playing well down the stretch in Houston. Mills' play led the Texans to give the quarterback a year to see if he could become the franchise signal-caller. While the Falcons' timeline for finding their franchise QB might be accelerated, Ridder could see a similar chance as a rookie to get on the field and impress.
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