Desmond Ridder on Falcons' starting quarterback job: Mindset is to 'take it and run with it'

The Atlanta Falcons handed the starting quarterback job to Desmond Ridder late last season and have since talked up the second-year signal-caller as their starter in 2023.

Ridder said Tuesday at the opening of the Falcons' offseason program that his intent the entire time was to run away with the starting gig whenever given a chance.

"Week 14, whenever that was, and going through the bye week, that's when I was told then," Ridder told reporters. "From that point on, it was just going into the offseason, myself just taking it as you're the starter. ... That was my mindset from as soon as I stepped on the field for the first time down in New Orleans, was to obviously take it and run with it."

Ridder started four games in 2022, completing 63.5% of his passes for 708 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions while taking nine sacks. His worst game came in his initial outing against New Orleans, when he threw for just 97 yards, but Ridder showed development down the stretch.

It was enough for the Falcons to eschew the idea of chasing a veteran starting quarterback this offseason. They inked Taylor Heinicke as a backup option, but the job is squarely Ridder's at this moment in the program.

Ridder noted that having a full year and a whole offseason in head coach Arthur Smith's scheme will make a big difference.

"Those are huge factors," Ridder said. "There is a very select few who get to say that they've had the same scheme, offensive coordinator and head coach, whatever it may be, for multiple years in a row. For myself being one of those guys, I'm going to take advantage of that."

The Falcons have spent big to improve their defense this offseason, retained vital offensive linemen and added pass catchers like Jonnu Smith to the equation. In a winnable NFC South, Ridder's development will be key in 2023.

"They've told me that they trust me and that they see what I do out on the field," Ridder said. "They see my leadership and that's what they want. I'm just going to keep continuing to be myself, be who I am, be the leader I can be and go out there and just keep proving myself."

The Falcons have insisted all offseason that Ridder is their guy. There is one last intersection to cross before Ridder can drive clear into September as the starter: the 2023 NFL Draft. If Atlanta doesn't draft a quarterback high next week, it will be another sign it's all in Ridder's corner.

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