HomeFootball DirtTaylor Heinicke to Start for Falcons in Week 16

Taylor Heinicke to Start for Falcons in Week 16

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In the aftermath of the Falcons’ loss on Sunday, head coachArthur Smith said a quarterback change was being contemplated. After going back toDesmond Ridder, Atlanta is now set to hand the reins toTaylor Heinicke once again.

The latter will get the start in Week 16, Josh Kendall and Jeff Schultz of The Athletic report (subscription required). That comes as no surprise after Smith’s remarks left the door open to Heinicke being reinstalled as the No. 1 for at least the time being. Ridder was given the starting role back after the Falcons’ bye week, and the team intended for that decision to apply through the remainder of the campaign.

However, the 2022 third-rounder has not improved as hoped during his second stint as a starter. Ridder has committed 16 turnovers this season, including six in the red zone. As a result, Atlanta sits at 6-8 on the year and is in danger of missing out on the postseason. A late switch back to Heinicke could provide more stability under center down the stretch.

After putting Ridder atop the depth chart for the final four games of his rookie season, the Falcons gave him a vote of confidence. The decision to sign Heinicke to a two-year, $14MM deal in the offseason was aimed at providing experienced depth, although the starter’s job was certainly not set in stone entering the season. With Ridder struggling to make the Year 2 jump, Heinicke earned a pair of starts midway through the season after replacing Ridder at halftime the game before.

In his time at the helm (which was cut short by a hamstring injury), Heinicke posted a passer rating of 84.2, the second-lowest of his career. The former Commanders starter committed only one turnover in that span, however, so he could provide a higher floor than Ridder against the Colts this week. Fighting for both the top spot in the NFC South as well as a wild-card spot, the Falcons will need a rebound from last week’s poor offensive showing to keep their postseason chances alive.

The team faces the possibility of missing the playoffs for a third straight season under head coachArthur Smith. In spite of that, the latest reporting on the matter points to Atlanta retaining him for next season. As The Athletic report notes, however, Smith’s job security may become dependent on a plan to acquire a new starter under center despite both Ridder and Heinicke being on the books beyond 2023. Neither passer has done enough to lay claim to a permanent No. 1 role to date, but Heinicke will get another opportunity to do so this Sunday.

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