Falcons’ HC Arthur Smith Shuts Down 2023 QB Draft Talk

Falcons

Getty Head coach Arthur Smith of the Atlanta Falcons.

For the first time in 14 seasons, the Atlanta Falcons’ QB1 job is up in the air after trading Matt Ryan away to the Indianapolis Colts and the franchise is now in a full rebuild mode–– even if they refuse to call it that.

That being said some critics believe the Falcons may already be eyeing the 2023 draft for upgrades, particularly cream of the crop quarterbacks C.J. Stroud of Ohio State or Alabama’s Bryce Young.

However, according to head coach Arthur Smith, nobody should be wasting their time thinking about the ’23 draft.

“This is a waste of your time and my time if you want to talk about ’23,” Smith said during a recent interview with The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz.

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The Falcons Have a ‘Win Now’ Mentality

There is a reason that Smith doesn’t like to label the Falcons as a “rebuilding team” and that’s mainly because it’s outdated.

“It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard — that a team would try to not win football games. If you don’t, there’s going to be consequences. OK, you’re at the top of the draft — I got it. But you’re in a very transactional phase of the National Football League right now. Trades in the draft. Trades for quarterbacks. It’s a different landscape than when Jimmy Johnson took over the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. It was pre-free agency. The famous Herschel Walker trade. They blew it up and went 1-15, and … it was a long rebuild. That is not the same NFL as today. Back then, people would’ve given their first born before they gave their picks away. People are still going off old narratives, and it’s comical. Any good team knows how to rebuild every year.”

Smith made it clear that moving on from Ryan was bound to happen sooner or later. There was never going to be a “right time.” The team did what they needed to do.

Even without their QB1, Smith, along with the rest of the front office, is solely focused on winning this year, just as they were last year.

“I want to win. I have an urgency to win,” Smith said. “You’re never promised anything. You don’t know what’s going to happen a year from now, and I’m not just talking about this job, I mean with health, in life. I’m not trying to be all philosophical here. But I like the makeup of our team. I like where we’re going. We have a lot of guys who are hungry, guys who are competitive, guys who have one-year deals and feel like they have something to prove. We have something to prove.”

The Falcons also fared well in free agency by adding players like wide receiver Casey Hayward and re-signing dual-threat Cordarrelle Patterson and extending defensive end Grady Jarrett’s contract.


The Falcons Plan to Start the Veteran

QB1 still remains the Falcons’ biggest question mark heading into the 2022 season, however, Smith plans to start six-year veteran Marcus Mariota over rookie Marcus Mariota.

“We’ve added competition certainly,” Falcons 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 September when the regular season kicks off, but it’s all up to Ridder on how well he performs and competes during camp. 

Any NFL player will tell you that the transition from the college level to the next level isn’t easy. Ridder will spend most of his “off” time studying the playbook in order to build trust with his teammates and coaches. Not to mention that the Falcons’ schedule this season is a tough one for any rookie as the team faces Tom Brady twice (again) along with Super Bowl Champs LA Rams and runner-up Cincinnati Bengals.

The good news is, Atlanta took a gamble on drafting Ridder in a later round––after selecting their top roster needs––and if he doesn’t work out for them, well then there is the 2023 draft to turn to. But that thought is buried deep in their brains, for now.

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