Falcons start Heinicke, Ridder dumped week 9

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Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has announced that Taylor Heinicke will be the Falcons starting QB for week 9, but it may not last very long.

“There’s a lot of variables,” Smith said. “Then, really, considering the last 72 hours and kind of where we’re at right now, going into this week with Minnesota, getting ready to play the Vikings, obviously a really good team coming in here. Going with Taylor, and that’s why he’s here right now.”

Heinicke said he received a text message late Tuesday evening telling him he’d be the starter.


It’s Smith’s third year as Falcons head coach and the bizarre way he’s gone about his press conferences these last few days has to make you wonder if he’s feeling the pressure. He’s 18-24 as head coach, but after a promising start this season the Falcons have dropped 4 of their last 6 games.

After the Falcons defeat in Tennessee Sunday, in which Ridder was benched, Smith had said that Ridder left the game to be checked for a concussion and although he passed the tests he was kept out “to be conservative.” Now we have Ridder being benched for Heinicke, but maybe not for long according to Smith.

“There are a lot of variables, just kind of looking at it in the short term,” Smith said. “But really our focus is short term and what gives us the best chance Sunday, everything considered, a lot of variables.”

So it’s unclear exactly why Smith has made the move, except that it gives Atlanta their best chance to win this weekend.

“You have moments in the season where things come up,” Smith said. “He’s a legitimate pro, and that’s why we like him. He goes in there, and that’s not an easy job, I guess, you know, coming out of the bathroom and telling him ‘Hey, here’s the ball, go play.’

“That’s what makes Taylor who he is and why we have such appreciation for him.”

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