Dirty Bird Update: Coach Smith Says Heinieke Not Falcons Permanent QB

The Quarterback Decision: No “Musical Chairs”

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith found himself defending his recent decision to replace starting quarterback Desmond Ridder with Taylor Heinieke after two embarrassing losses involving both QB’s. At Smith’s press conference at Flowery Branch, he repeated that Heinieke will not replace Ridder as starting quarterback even though he is starting the upcoming Arizona Cardinals game. Smith felt Heinieke gave the team the best chance to win against Arizona, but he wasn’t going to “play musical chairs” with the QB position. He stated he would decide whether Heinike or Ridder would start the rest of the season after the bye week.

He added later on “Dukes and Bell” on 929 The Game, “There’s some things we needed to settle down and we need to go get this win [against Arizona.”] he said.

Smith was asked by Fox 5 sports reporter Kelly Price about what went into the quickly made decision last Monday to start Heinike for the upcoming game whereas Smith made the decision Wendesday of last week for the Vikings game. He would not elaborate on his decision-making citing the need to protect his players, but he repeated there were certain “variables” that go into his decisions.

“There’s so many things that go into it,” he said. “It’s not all on the quarterback and sometimes it’s the matchups, it’s [the] way things are trending.” He added that he believes the Falcons have the “right people” and that situations such as injuries affect the decisions he may have to make regarding his players.

Drake London’s Back At Practice

Coach Smith had some good news about WR Drake London, who wound up on the injury list due to a groin injury from the Titans game. He said that London was “trending in the right direction.” He was to start practice today and would be working throughout the week. When asked about his practice today on Dukes and Bell, Smith said it went well.

Smith: We’re not dead, we’re not out of it

The Falcons, now 5-4 and below .500, have been getting a lot of heat from critics and fans for, among other things,  not being able to score touchdowns once they get into the red zone. Smith said the team has the right people to make plays and score more than just field goals,  but they need to be able to show authority when they get to the goal line. “We got to find other ways to make sure we’re more lethal down the on the red zone,” he said. “We have the right guys in the locker room. We have the right staff. We’re not excited about where we’re at, but we’re not dead and we’re not out of it and we get the chance to go do something about it.”

Jarrett heads for surgery

Grady Jarrett’s absence is definitely being felt. The veteran defensive lineman is out for the entire season due to an ACL injury and is due for surgery soon. Smith said of Jarrett’s impending surgery today, “I know nobody will attack it better than Grady Jarrett will.”

Earlier this week, Jarrett posted this message to fans on Twitter/X

Smith stays quiet on Patterson Social Media Post. 

There have been a lot of questions about the usage of skilled players like Cordarrelle Patterson, who have not been seeing a lot of action lately, and fans and critics aren’t the only ones noticing, and speaking out about it.

Some observers believe the post may have been directed at Smith. When asked about Patterson’s social media post by Dukes and Bell, Coach Smith would not respond to Patterson’s post. “I’ll never speak for another man”, said Smith. “We’ve got a great relationship with all of our players. we don’t have a lot of drama. You’d have to ask CP of that.” He said he and Patterson constantly communicate, and not always about football. “I don’t talk about it, guys don’t talk about it. we keep it in-house.”