Taylor Heinicke will replace Desmond Ridder as the Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback for the second time this season in Week 16, the team announced on Tuesday.
The Falcons suffered their second straight loss – and their fifth in the space of seven games – on Sunday, going down 9-7 on the road against the Carolina Panthers.
That loss came after Ridder threw an interception in the red zone on Atlanta’s final drive with his team 7-6 up, allowing the Panthers to go up the other end and score the game-winning field goal.
Ridder finished 12-of-20 for 152 passing yards, one score and one pick, four weeks after he returned to the fold following starts for Heinicke in Weeks 9 and 10.
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With Atlanta now outside the NFC playoff picture with a 6-8 record, head coach Arthur Smith said he was reluctant to make another change but saw it as being in the team’s best interests.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the Falcons listing Heinicke to start Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, Smith said: “That’s usually not a great situation to have.
“You want to be fair and objective and obviously give people an opportunity. It was about having belief in him [Ridder], no matter what happens.
“It doesn’t mean anybody’s career is over, but we have to do what’s best for this team right now.”
The Falcons have released their latest depth chart heading into Sunday’s game vs. Indy.
Taylor Heinicke is listed as the starting quarterback.
— Scott Bair (@ScottBairNFL) December 19, 2023
Ridder has thrown for 2,528 yards and 10 touchdowns in his 13 games this season, though he also has 10 interceptions with six turnovers in the red zone – the most in the league.
Heinicke, meanwhile, has thrown for 498 yards and three scores in three outings this campaign, with the 30-year-old possessing a 12-14-1 record as a starter in the NFL.