Exhibit A, where coach is smiling and laughing with rookie wide receiver Drake London:
And exhibit B, where Smith handed out a compliment to rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder:
“Behind the scenes, the things that he has done, as a rookie, really from the neck up,” Smith said during a press conference on June 15. “How he’s operating, when we’re doing the rookie walk-throughs, when we do these installations and on the field, and his command. Then you’re betting on some of the physical things you see at times to catch up. He’s light years ahead of most young quarterbacks, in terms of playing from the neck up. I will give him that compliment.”
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Ridder Surprised With Himself
As any rookie knows, the transition from the college level to the pro level is difficult––especially for quarterbacks.
Unlike most positions on offense, Ridder has to know not only his position but all of the others as well.
But as Smith mentioned, Ridder is grasping things quicker than most rookie QBS.
In fact, he’s even surprised himself a bit.
“The overall knowledge of the offense – I’m not going to lie, I thought I would come in and struggle a little bit,” Ridder said. “We’re almost all the way through all of our installs and putting in all those checks, and I have a good grasp of it. That surprised me, honestly. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have picked it up, but I thought it might’ve taken a bit longer, a couple of extra days. I’ve been able to pick up on it pretty smoothly.”
He has even naturally taken well to the leadership aspect, which is important as a quarterback.
“It was just the flow of it, the way my sentences are coming out in the huddle to the command I have at the line of scrimmage, just seeing the defense and seeing the offense,” Ridder said. “Everything just came to me.”
The Falcons Plan to Roll with Mariota at QB1
While Ridder has been adjusting to the pro-level well, the Falcons expect veteran Marcus Mariota to lead the way, while Ridder continues to soak up all that he can as a backup.
“We’ve added competition certainly,” Smith said, per The Athletic. “Marcus being the veteran gives us a chance going forward. As with any position on this team, the best player is going to play, but obviously, Marcus being the vet, that’s the way it’ll go starting out.”
Of course, things can change between now and the regular season, but it’s all up to Ridder on how well he performs and competes in training camp come July.
“I’m not going to sit here and speculate or give you our plan of development,” Smith said. “We’ll see what (Ridder) looks like when he gets here. If you’re asking if we’re going to put a package in for him, we’ll see. We’ve got a long way to go until September.
I’m not going to tell you our long-term plan or short-term plan. We know what we want to see behind the scenes. It’ll play itself out. You guys will be able to watch it.”