Sunday’s matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints options the debut of essentially the most intriguing participant we’ve named up to now.
After all, it’s not solely about Desmond Ridder’s first begin, because the Soccer Gods decree that 5 Falcons have to be named every week. No extra, no much less. Let’s get to it!
All eyes will in fact be on the Falcons rookie quarterback making his debut. Ridder has an opportunity to start a potent legacy in Atlanta with a win towards a hated rival. The final time a Falcons rookie passer made his beginning debut towards the Saints was Matt Schaub all the best way again in 2004 in a Week 15 highway match that resulted in a 26-13 loss. Schaub, additionally initially a third-round decide, was sacked for a security and threw two fourth-quarter interceptions in that sport.
Nonetheless, Schaub entered that lineup underneath very totally different circumstances. He was filling in for an injured starter Michael Vick within the midst of a powerful season that noticed the Falcons make all of it the best way to the NFC Championship Sport of their first 12 months underneath then head coach Jim L. Mora. Ridder will simply be hoping to spark a Falcons workforce that has lately hit the skids and is anticipated to be an improve over demoted starter Marcus Mariota, one thing that no one ever dreamt of with Schaub and Vick.
There are many expectations and hopes that Ridder’s debut can be much more spectacular than Schaub’s was. However you possibly can’t anticipate the rookie to have to hold the complete burden, and he’ll need assistance from key playmakers elsewhere on the roster.
Hopefully benefiting from such a powerful premiere from the workforce’s quarterback can be his main receiving goal, which needs to be none aside from fellow rookie Drake London. London hopes to get a lift from Ridder’s presence on account of their robust rapport courting again to the times after they have been roommates again throughout Could’s rookie minicamp.
If that’s the case, it needs to be an enormous improve over what we’ve seen in latest weeks with the connection between London and Mariota. Issues began robust this 12 months, with London producing 16 catches, 214 yards, and catching 64 p.c of the passes thrown his approach within the first three weeks mixed. However over the past three video games, these numbers have declined to 9 receptions, 126 yards, and a catch charge of 47 p.c. That remaining determine greatest illustrates how a lot the rapport between the receiver and quarterback has deteriorated over the course of the season, which is the alternative of expectations.
So if London and Ridder can get on the identical web page shortly, these numbers ought to rebound to their September ranges, rising the Falcons’ probabilities at successful on Sunday.
Ridder must also get assist from improved blocking giving him extra time to attach with London after the snap. Beginning left guard Elijah Wilkinson is expected to be activated to the roster off injured reserve earlier than Sunday’s sport. He final performed in Week 8, a win that resulted within the Falcons taking the lead within the NFC South. Since then, they’ve fallen to 3rd place. That doesn’t imply that Wilkinson is the key catalyst behind the workforce’s earlier success this 12 months, however he ought to hopefully cease the revolving door of three totally different starters which have crammed within the 5 weeks since.
A steady offensive line is mostly thought of offensive line, which actually will assist maintain their rookie quarterback extra upfront in his debut.
Defensive deal with Grady Jarrett was dominant within the Falcons’ Week 1 loss to the Saints, with Arnold Ebiketie additionally having a powerful debut by incomes his first profession sack. Nonetheless, Jarrett hasn’t been practically as efficient in latest weeks. Even when he has a repeat efficiency of his spectacular season-opener, the stark actuality that has been confirmed repeatedly this season is that he wants extra assist up entrance.
Ebiketie is greatest outfitted to offer that support and has proven regular enchancment over the course of the season. However after lacking Week 13 with a forearm harm, it’s time for Ebiketie to alleviate Jarrett’s burden and put collectively his personal dominant efficiency.
In contrast to the boys up entrance, Week 1’s Saints matchup was not an ideal day for cornerback A.J. Terrell. He gave up a few touchdowns to Saints receiver Michael Thomas late that helped spark their comeback. However with Thomas out for the season, Terrell ought to get a extra favorable matchup towards rookie Chris Olave. Traditionally, Terrell has fared higher towards sooner, faster wideouts like Olave than the larger, extra bodily ones like Thomas.
To not point out, most of Terrell’s early-season struggles this 12 months got here within the crimson zone, an space the place the Saints have but to capitalize on with Olave’s strengths. Terrell doesn’t must shut down Olave, but when he can maintain him contained, the dearth of Saints offensive firepower elsewhere ought to maintain issues extra manageable for a Ridder-led Falcons offense.
Are you able to title different intriguing Falcon gamers you’ll be watching this Sunday aside from these point out?