The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

Arthur Smith, run the football

Falcons helmet

When Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith benched starting quarterback Desmond Ridder for backup QB Taylor Heinecke at halftime against the Tennessee Titans, I was relieved. And when I read Heinecke was named the starting QB for the next week’s game, against the Minnesota Vikings — which I would be at — I was more than relieved; I was optimistic. 


We have not had a great QB, or even a “good” QB, since Matt Ryan. Do not get me wrong, I do not think Heinecke is going to be as good, or going to be anywhere near as good, as Ryan was. He is not going to take us to another Super Bowl. But after seeing his second-half performance against the Titans, I genuinely believed he could take us to the playoffs, which would be a first for us in the post-Ryan era. 


I was hopefully optimistic; I should have been cautiously optimistic. Heinecke was not “bad” against the Vikings per se, but his first start for us ending in a heartbreaking, nail-biter loss — and witnessing it firsthand — was humbling, to say the least.  


On paper, he had a “bigger” game against the Vikings than he did against the Titans; he completed more passes, and he threw for more yards. But he played an entire game, instead of a half, his completion percentage was lower and he had the same number of touchdowns, one. And he threw a pick — an unforgivable pick. 

His comparison, Vikings backup QB Joshua Dobbs — who, after being acquired from the Arizona Cardinals at the trade deadline, had less than a week to learn the team’s playbook — finished with a humble stat line. Statistically, Heinecke did “more” than Dobbs, but Dobbs did not throw a pick, he was able to make big plays with his legs and, above all else, he put together a game-winning drive in under two minutes. 


When Vikings wide receiver Brandon Powell caught a go-ahead TD with less than 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, I stood in disbelief, my hands on my head. I did not move for five minutes. I was in shock. Maybe I am in denial now, but I do not think the loss — Heinecke’s pick notwithstanding — was entirely his fault. I hope I am right because we are stuck with him, at least for the time being. 


When the Houston Texans were shopping Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson, we missed out on the fire sale. Let me be clear: Because of the baggage he comes with, I did not want him to be the face of our franchise; the Texans were desperate to get rid of him for a reason. But he would have been an upgrade, a big upgrade, at QB. When there was speculation Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson wanted out, I was, against my better judgment, hoping and praying we would make an offer. But we did not, and he and the Ravens are on track to win the AFC North. And we are not bad enough to tank and enter the sweepstakes for University of Southern California QB and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, who is being touted as the second coming of Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. 


That is what has been so frustrating about watching Ridder, and now, Heinecke, through the first half of this season. This team is not bad. And Ridder and Heinecke are not either; they are just the definition of average. Neither of them has the arm or accuracy to make us a pass-first team, and they are not dual-threat QBs. Lord knows Ridder is turnover-prone.  


And because of all this, Smith’s play calling has catered to developing Ridder and turning us into a pass-first team rather than focusing on running the football, our offense’s biggest strength. Running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier will take us further than Ridder’s, or Heinecke’s, arm. Putting the ball on the ground will open the passing lanes for tight end Kyle Pitts — who we have to make a centerpiece of our offense, as we drafted him above Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, one of the best in the league. 


Former Falcons wide receiver and Atlanta legend Julio Jones signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles last month, and he might get a ring out of it. If we want to have a chance of getting back to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, any time soon, we have to hand the ball off — no matter who is under center. 


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Bobcat Multimedia Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *