Desmond Ridder makes big admission about failed Falcons stint

Current Arizona Cardinals quarterback Desmond Ridder seems to have at least one significant regret regarding his Atlanta Falcons tenure that lasted two campaigns, 17 starts and 19 regular-season appearances.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Desmond Ridder. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

“One thing I wanna improve is just going out there playing free,” Ridder recently explained, as shared by Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. “A lot of the times I felt like I was playing not to mess it up, not to screw it up. And so just to be able to go out there, play free, play loose, play within the system. And then there were a lot of good things that I did on film and then there were some bad things.”

Ridder originally joined the Falcons as a 2022 third-round draft pick and made four starts as a rookie before then-Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith named the 24-year-old the club’s QB1 in March 2023.

Things went poorly for both Ridder and Smith this past fall, as the signal-caller spent a portion of his second season as a benched spectator.

The Falcons ultimately fired Smith after Week 18, hired former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as Smith’s replacement and signed veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins early into free agency.

Atlanta happily shipped Ridder to Arizona shortly after the Cousins deal was finalized.

“It just happened to be that those bad things outweighed the good,” Ridder continued. “There was a lot of the games where it was 90 percent good and 10 percent bad, and in those 10 percent, that just happened to be the determining factor of the game.”

According to ESPN stats, Ridder ended the 2023 regular season ranked 26th among qualified players with a 40.1 adjusted QBR and 28th with an 83.4 passer rating. He tossed 12 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions across 15 games.

With Arizona, Ridder is expected to compete with 2023 fifth-round draft pick Clayton Tune for the QB2 job. Interestingly, some think the Cardinals could use the fourth pick of this year’s draft to grab an eventual replacement for starting quarterback Kyler Murray.

Morris generated headlines when he somewhat controversially said in February that he likely wouldn’t have his current role if the Falcons “had better quarterback play” this past season. Ridder acknowledged that comment was “tough” to hear.

“…For me to be able to go out there and just learn from it, be able to go out there and be better from it, I think that’s what’s gonna help me in the long run in my career and my longevity,” Ridder added about Morris’s words. “So, you can’t really control what other people say, but you can control how you respond and what you go do.”

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