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Desmond Ridder to be Atlanta Falcons starting QB, Marcus Mariota benched

Atlanta falcons' desmond ridder
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

When the Atlanta Falcons come out of their Week 14 bye to take on the division-rival New Orleans Saints, rookie Desmond Ridder will be under center.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report on Thursday that Ridder will replace struggling veteran Marcus Mariota at quarterback for the second-place team.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Atlanta heads into Week 14 with the 31st-ranked passing offense in the NFL at 155.7 yards per game, only ahead of Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears.

Despite this, the Falcons find themselves at 5-8 and just 1.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South. The hope is that Ridder can at least provide a jolt on offense for Arthur Smith’s squad.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL QB rankings

What Desmond Ridder brings to the table for the Atlanta Falcons

atlanta falcons qb desmond ridder
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A four-year starter for the Cincinnati Bearcats, Ridder finished his college career by tallying 115 total touchdowns and 28 interceptions. He was one of the best players at his position in college football during his run with Cincinnati.

There are flaws to Ridder’s game. He struggles making it past his first read and is not particularly accurate when it comes to intermediate routes. But he does have a relatively strong arm and presents a dual-threat ability.

From Atlanta’s perspective, competing for a division crown would just be icing on the cake moving forward on the season. If Tampa Bay were to fall to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, the Falcons would be just one game out of the top spot in the NFC South.

Atlanta also has a favorable schedule moving forward with games against the Saints (4-9), Ravens (8-4), Cardinals (4-8) and Buccaneers (6-6).