ATLANTA -- Desmond Ridder's first start as an NFL quarterback began off a bit rocky -- he threw an interception on the opening drive of the game -- but he remained poised. That's something we've seen this entire preseason.
"Once one thing goes wrong, our job as a quarterback is not to make it any worse than it already is and that's what I need to do better," Ridder said after the game.
Saturday night's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars wasn't his best performance compared to the previous two, but he played a crucial role in propelling the Falcons to a 28-12 victory.
"Obviously [throwing an interception] off the [bat] wasn't the hottest start, but I felt like it went well," Ridder said. "Our goal was to go out there and execute, dominate the line of scrimmage, and just keep the ball moving. It's a lot of little issues here and there when it comes to getting the plays going and everything, but we'll clean that up."
Ridder finished capped off his first NFL preseason completing 14-for-21 passes on 185 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT and a 70.6 passer rating. The Falcons offense found tempo early in the first quarter after going on a 15-play touchdown drive, executing on three third-down conversions, as well as a 14-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter.
"It's just really keeping the ball moving forward, anyway possible to do that," Ridder said. "We train to have those long drives and we train to grind on the other team more than we're tired, and that's what we did."
On the last play of the second quarter, Ridder threw another interception to Jacksonville, but it was honestly an intended throw away pass to close out the half. Making those mental mistakes and recovering from them is something Ridder has done since his high school playing days.
"As a quarterback you have to play the next play no matter what happens on the last one," Ridder said, "No matter what happened on the last one, or the drop before, go out there and play the next play and it's a new opportunity to be made."
Over the course of the past week, Arthur Smith has talked a lot about how he's not waiting on Ridder as rookie but how's he going to coach him like he's been here already, and Ridder fully embraces it. The confidence that Smith has in the rookie spills over into Ridder's game.
"It makes me feel good because one, I know he cares," Ridder said. "He's knows what player I can be and sees the potential that I have and he's just trying to get everything out of me. I love that as a coach. I don't care if it's hard coaching, soft coaching, whatever it may be, and sometimes it is tough when he gives it to me but that's fine. You remember these things; you remember these moments but they're not only better for myself but the team as well."
Ridder sees the growth in himself as a quarterback, but he knows there a ton of work to do. His knowledge of the system, his command over the offense and his playmaking ability has been clear. Now he's looking to step things a step further as his first NFL season nears.
"My overall knowledge of the game. When it comes situationally and also when it comes offensive scheme wise. You know just having the past 3-4 months just consuming knowledge," Ridder said. "It's been fun for me so I'm excited to continue this journey and keep continuing to learn."
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