The Atlanta Falcons looked a lot different at the start of the second half: Desmond Ridder was on the sidelines. Backup Taylor Heinicke played the entire first drive which, despite Heinicke scrambling and almost throwing an interception, ended with three points for Atlanta.
Like many others, we are still trying to put together what is happening. ESPN’s Michael Rothstein was told that Ridder was undergoing evaluation for a concussion. However, Ridder watched the offense on the sideline without any medical professional around. The announcers indicated Ridder was evaluated and cleared but were unclear if he would return.
It may be a little tough for Arthur Smith to plug Ridder back in after Heinicke provided a bit of a spark. He’s watching the Tennessee Titans move the ball easily with the team’s backup quarterback Will Levi. He also has a solid opportunity to keep in Heinicke for as long as the offense is moving without officially benching Ridder.
At the very least, Smith may be thinking Heinicke should have less risk for costly turnovers.
Update: Despite Ridder being cleared, Heinicke played a second drive in the third quarter. Through two drives, Heinicke is 4/8 for 56 yards. Ridder was 8/12 for 71 yards and a fumble.