Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder had his first start against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, December 18.
Ridder completed 13-of-26 passes for 97 yards, no touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 59.3 percent passer rating. He also added 38 yards on the ground on six attempts in the Falcons’ 21-18 loss to New Orleans.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was not thrilled with Ridder’s debut, but he also didn’t expect a lot from him heading into the rivalry matchup
“I told Desmond yesterday whether he threw for 400 yards or he threw for 100 it wasn’t going to define his career,” Smith said in the post-game press conference. “There’s a lot to learn from. The thing is that I saw him operate, procedure-wise, he had a lot of command. The next step is we have to continue to find solutions and make more plays.”
Ridder Gave Himself a Poor Grade
After the game, Ridder was asked how he would grade himself on his first NFL performance.
‘A C-minus or a D,” Ridder said.
”It was really good in the execution of coming out of the huddle, getting the play called and getting to the line of scrimmage with plenty of time on the play clock,” he continued. “Post snap, I felt like I obviously could have done better.”
He even admitted that he was a little too excited and too cocky at the start of the game.
“The execution was not where we wanted it to be,” he said. ”On some of those deep balls, I’ve got to give the guys a chance to go make a play. I tried to be too perfect and put it out in front of them when in reality all you have to do is give them a chance.
”Obviously you are going to have nerves and anxiety just getting out there for your first start in a crazy environment, but this is what all of us dream of coming into the NFL. There were a lot of emotions, but I settled in after that first drive.”
Ridder Was Too Harsh on Himself
Ridder was way too hard on himself following the loss, according to Smith, who was overall pleased with Ridder’s performance and emphasized that the disappointing outcome wasn’t entirely his fault.
At one point with just a little over two minutes left, it looked like Ridder connected with wide receiver Drake London for a 12-yarder that could have set Atlanta up in field goal range but it was knocked out by the Saints and then recovered.
‘We’ve got to do a better job of ball security,” Smith said. ”They made a play and popped it out. We had a chance to go in there and possibly win the game or at least tie it.”
Of course, Ridder has some work to do. But Smith likes what he has seen from the 2022 third-round pick so far.
“He’s not scared of the moment,” Smith said of Ridder. ”He’s poised. I like what he’s made up of. It says a lot about him.”