Sunday, January 29, 2023

Falcons head coach won’t take questions on Desmond Ridder playing time: ‘I’m not answering the hypothetical’


Marcus Mariota is the starting quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons. Head coach Arthur Smith made that point clear during the first week of training camp, hoping to avoid the questions surrounding a quarterback controversy with rookie Desmond Ridder

After a strong preseason, the clock is ticking when Ridder will unseat Mariota for the starting quarterback job. Smith is having none of the questions surrounding Ridder’s playing time. 

“I’m not answering the hypothetical, fantasy football, that kind of BS,” Smith said Monday. “It’s hypothetical. Comparative data, what comparison do you have? Is there a certain quarterback or a certain plan, strategy, that you’re comparing this to that somebody’s done?”

Ridder had an impressive preseason for the Falcons, as the rookie completed 60.8% of his passes for 431 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions (87.7 rating). Mariota was also impressive in his small sample size, completing 8 of 12 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown for a 137.5 rating. 

The Falcons have a lot of issues to address heading into the season. Atlanta averaged just 18.4 points per game last season (26th in the NFL) and allowed 27.0 points (29th in league), while averaging just 303.8 yards per game (29th) and allowing 364.4 yards a contest (26th). The 7-10 record from last year was also deceiving, as five of those wins came against teams that ended up with a losing record. 

There’s a reason why Atlanta is starting the season with Mariota, who appears set to be the quarterback for the whole year. 

“We want to know what we have in Marcus Mariota. If you want to make this about ’23, I mean, you can ask every which way,” Smith said. “We’re focused on Week 1. I’m not going to hear about some hypothetical — that’s not where our focus is right now. Our focus is on the New Orleans Saints

“If you want to hang out with the bots on Twitter and social media and get all of these hypothetical GM scenarios or great team-building — some of these other asinine narratives — go ahead, but we’re focused on the New Orleans Saints. I’m not going to answer questions about hypotheticals.”

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