Washington Commanders v Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons made a change at quarterback on Sunday, as it was Taylor Heinicke who trotted the offense out onto the field to begin the second half of their 28-23 Week 8 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Atlanta's starter, Desmond Ridder, left the game to be evaluated for a concussion, but was seen standing on the sideline wearing a cap after being cleared. 

Following the game, head coach Arthur Smith did not commit to Heinicke starting moving forward, and stated that Ridder's benching was health-related. "We've got a lot of confidence in Des," Smith said. "We didn't take him out for performance reasons." Instead, Smith noted that he "didn't think Des was right," per Pro Football Talk.

On Monday, Smith was a little bit less clear on the situation. Asked whether Ridder would start in Week 9 if healthy, Smith responded, "I gotta see where he's at. That's the best I can give you. I got to see where he's at. Got to see if that's the best thing for this team this week. Obviously, it's not something I'm concerned long term, he's done a lot of good things. But we gotta go find a way to go win this game. If it's Taylor that's what we'll do. My concern is Des."

Smith then said that he would let people know on Wednesday who would be the team's starting quarterback for the Week 9 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Desmond Ridder
ATL • QB • #9
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Taylor Heinicke
ATL • QB • #4
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Prior to his exit on Sunday, Ridder completed 8 of 12 passes for 71 yards, but he was also sacked five times and lost one fumble. Turnovers have been an issue for Ridder as of late, as he entered this week as the NFL's leader in giveaways with 11. The former third-round pick out of Cincinnati has turned the ball over 10 times in just the last five games, including three red-zone turnovers in last week's win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Heinicke signed with the Falcons this offseason after three seasons with the Washington Commanders. After entering the game, he immediately led a seven-play, 44-yard drive that was capped with a Younghoe Koo 49-yard field goal. His final stat line saw him complete 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown.