QB1 or not, Desmond Ridder keeping starter mentality with Cardinals

Mar 26, 2024, 3:29 PM

Former Falcons starting quarterback Desmond Ridder caught quite the stray from Atlanta’s new head coach Raheem Morris at the NFL Draft Combine last month.

Without naming Ridder, who started 13 games for Atlanta last year, the new Falcons head coach suggested he may not be in the position he now holds had the quarterback play been better.

Thick skin or not, that’s a tough look, especially with Ridder still on Atlanta’s roster at that time.

Ridder, though, is focused on using the good and the bad from the past two seasons rather than listening to outside chatter after getting dealt to the Arizona Cardinals earlier this month.

As he put it Tuesday, “you can’t really control what other people say, but you can control how you respond and what you go do.”

Ridder, who started 17 games for the Falcons the past two years, understands his role as a backup option to Kyler Murray on top of serving as another veteran voice for Clayton Tune.

But while Ridder’s status inside Arizona’s quarterbacks room looks different than it did this time last year in Atlanta, the quarterback’s approach remains the same.

“When you talk about my rookie year coming in and being behind Marcus (Mariota), I was coming in to learn like I was a starter,” Ridder said. “It didn’t matter if I was the fourth quarterback or first quarterback on the roster. Doesn’t matter who you are, you have to be ready to play on Sunday.

“As we saw last year around the league, all it takes it one play. The first play in Week 1 or the 18th play in Week 16, whatever it may be, you have to be ready to go and make it a smooth transition from the so-called starter to the backup and (so on). Just going in and being able to learn, being a sponge. Kyler’s been in the league a year or two more than I have so it’s going to be exciting to get down there and learn what he’s learned to see how he learns, to see how he manages the game on and off the field. It’s just going to be interesting.”

Ridder may not have had a role in Atlanta’s reset, but the same can’t be said in Arizona.

His passing numbers don’t jump off the page, but Ridder did complete 64% of his passes for 3,544 yards and 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. His ability as a runner also fit the mold of what head coach Jonathan Gannon envisions his backup behind Murray being.

“When you look at our starter and the things that he can do, you’re always looking at, ‘If the backup goes in, how much do you have to change?’ With him and Clayton, we feel really good about not changing very much because of their skillset,” Gannon told reporters at the annual owners’ meeting on Tuesday. “That’s cool. And I think the added dimension of mobility … as far as defending those guys is just a little bit harder.

“But I also say defending Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees was pretty hard, too. There’s more than one way to do things but I do like what we do on offense as far as moving the pocket stuff and some of the quarterback run game. We won’t miss a beat with those guys.”

What does Desmond Ridder want to improve on in 2024?

Among the improvements Ridder wants to make in Year 3, playing free ranks right up there at the top.

“A lot of the times I felt like I was playing not to mess it up, not to screw it up,” Ridder said. “Just to be able to go out there and play free, play loose, play within the system. There were a lot of good things I did on film and there were bad things. But I feel like it just happened to be the bad things were outweighing the good. … In those 10%, that just happened to be the determining factor in a game. With that 90% good play, it’s keeping that going and keeping everything you did the same.

“I’m going to show up to the facility every single day to work, push myself to be better, to push Kyler to be better, to push Clayton and to push the team to be better. I think that’s obviously one of my main jobs in there is to go out and make the team 100%. Taking from those goods and the bads in Atlanta over the last two years and being able to transform them better in Arizona.”

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QB1 or not, Desmond Ridder keeping starter mentality with Cardinals