Desmond Ridder stans shouldn't take too much offense to this, because let's face it, Ridder has to be the most anonymous starting quarterback in the entire NFL. Anyone who wants to gas up the Atlanta Falcons as a sleeper playoff team or potential NFC South champ can acknowledge that Ridder is a total wild card. Nobody knows what to expect from him this season.
Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard actually didn't have bad things to say about Ridder, but it's objectively hilarious that he had no clue who the dude was. It's not like the Dolphins and Falcons were going balls-deep on scouting reports. Neither have even played preseason games yet. They're finally getting to hit someone other than their own teammates amid the dog days of training camp. That Howard didn't know who Ridder was makes more sense in that context. He's a former first-team All-Pro, so it's not like he doesn't study tape or is oblivious to the QBs he goes up against.
Seriously though, who the hell is Desmond Ridder? We're about a month out from Week 1. The following testimony from Kyle Pitts is about the most you'll ever hear about the ex-University of Cincinnati star, who was a third-round pick last year:
What a weird division the NFC South is about to be. Other than the Bucs, you can make a compelling case for any of the other three teams to win that thing. Atlanta made pretty substantial improvements to its roster this offseason, particularly on defense in free agency. Then of course drafting Bijan Robinson eighth overall should give Arthur Smith's rushing attack some serious juice. But if Ridder sucks, none of that matters. If he's good? The Falcons could run away from their competition.
Then you have the Saints, the actual favorites. They have a trio of accomplished offensive vets in Derek Carr, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara who are all looking to revitalize their careers. New Orleans probably has the most complete, experienced roster in the division as well. Just a matter of putting it all together and whether or not Dennis Allen is the right coach.
Everyone seems to think No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young will have zero trouble transitioning to the NFL from Alabama. Should that be the case, the Carolina Panthers are a real threat. Loaded coaching staff. Tons of young defensive talent. An underrated offensive line. I just wonder if Young is good enough to elevate a middling group of skill position players. It's pretty rare for rookie QBs to make the playoffs, much less fare well once they get there.
Desmond Ridder is most likely on course to be the third-best QB in one of the NFL's two worst divisions. Meanwhile, Xavien Howard and the Dolphins have to deal with Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers for four of 17 games in the AFC East. It's a shame Miami lost Jalen Ramsey so early in camp. The secondary should be OK without him largely thanks to the presence of new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, yet it's a big blow and will likely impact the Fins' playoff hopes in such a loaded conference.
Welp. Anyway. Good luck to Ridder and the Falcons. For everyone's sake in Atlanta, hopefully he becomes more of a household name. Otherwise we may get to the point in the year where they're tanking for Caleb Williams/Drake Maye/etc.