Heinike to Start Arizona Game, Ridder Will Get Ball Back Soon: Smith

Atlanta Falcons Taylor Heinike will be throwing the ball again Sunday when the team plays the Arizona Cardinals, head coach Arthur Smith announced today.

Smith, who appeared without his much-talked-about mustache, told reporters at Flowery Branch that staff believed with “everything going on” with the Dirty Birds, it was best to keep Heinike in place as the temporary starting quarterback going into week ten rather than bring back the incumbent starter, Desmond Ridder.

“Especially going into this week, we’ll go with Taylor this week and kind of re-assess going into the bye [week]” said Smith, as reported by Falcons Sr. Content Producer Tori McElhaney. “[Heinicke has] played the last six quarters and we’ve scored 48 points with him back there. Obviously, we want more than that, but that’ll be the plan this week.”

Heinicke was moved to the starter position two weeks ago after the Titans game when he left at halftime for concussion protocol. Heinicke took over as quarterback after the half of that game and continued in Sunday’s Vikings game. The Falcons lost both games, but some observers noticed Heinicke seemed to play better than Ridder did in his stint as a starter.

Coach Smith reiterated that he intended to return the ball to Ridder at some point, most likely after the upcoming bye week.

“You don’t want to play with a two-quarterback system and whatnot,” he said. “I certainly don’t plan on it being week-to-week after that. But we need to do everything we can to go get this win out of Arizona.”

The quarterback issue is one of several the Falcons are dealing with heading into midseason, including the fallout over Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, which provoked ridicule and criticism from Falcon fans and the media Monday over the loss to a rookie quarterback, Josh Dobbs, who just joined the team 5 days earlier and was shown on video having to learn the team plays before the game.

Smith repeated his statement from after the game about correcting recurring problems. “You can’t sugar coat it nor can you make excuses so you go on there and everybody starting with myself got to be accountable for it,” he said.

The Falcons are also coping with team injuries. Smith said Drake London, who was absent last Sunday due to a groin injury should be back for the next game. He added they are most concerned about wide receiver Mark Collins ankle injury. They are monitoring cornerback Dee Alford‘s condition, and Corrdarelle Patterson and Bijan Robinson were healthy.