The Atlanta Falcons put returning starting QB Taylor Heinike out front as the team tried to move on from a disastrous loss last Sunday.
Head coach Arthur Smith confirmed Heinike will be the designated passer for the Falcons going forward this season. Smith told the press today at Flowery Branch that the plan originally called for Desmond Ridder to complete the entire season, but “we feel right now, where we’re at, that Taylor gives us the best chance,” he said.
The team was still smarting from a 9-7 loss to NFC South laggards the Carolina Panthers, who are now 2-12. Many fans and critics see the loss to that team as an embarrassment that should lead to the immediate dismissal of both Smith and Ridder. But Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a GPB interview Tuesday that Smith was safe in his coaching position at least until the end of the season.
And Ridder won’t be given walking papers, either this season although he is getting benched. Smith said Ridder would be sticking around for the rest of the season. He alluded to the likely reason for Ridder’s benching: his failure to take care of the ball and limit turnovers this season.
Heinicke himself told the press he and Ridder still lead quarterback meetings.
Tasked with helping to save his team’s season, he told the press he is quite focused on his goal at hand as the Falcons’ starting QB.
“Win. I just want to win,” he said.
For his part, Ridder, who will be taking a seat during Falcons games (unless Heinicke is injured) said today to the press that his interception that doomed the Dirty Birds Sunday against the Panthers was “the dumbest play of my career,” he said.
Smith told Carl Dukes on 929 The Game this afternoon that he accepts the criticism for what many believe is a failed season, but is focused on improving his team’s status, starting with next Sunday’s home game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“We’re sitting here at 6-8, you are what your record says,” he said. “We gotta close that gap…it’s our own fault, starting with me. If you can take adversity, you can learn from your mistakes, you can become better.”