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Falcons passing game preview: Versatile, talented skill players need Desmond Ridder to be at his best

Young quarterback will have good protection and plenty of options in the pattern, including Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts and Drake London

Editor's note: Welcome, everyone, to NFL season preview SZN. We're going to run a few installments on the Falcons outlook for 2023, but we're going to forgo the traditional position breakdowns and focus on phases of the game.

With that said, we'll get started by focusing on the Falcons passing attack.

If you're involved with the Falcons offense, you'll be involved in the passing attack. And, if you're a skill player, you'll be moving all over the place. That's the nature of positionless football, something we'll see in all its glory now that the Falcons have the versatile personnel required to execute such an enterprise.


RB, WR and TE don't mean a ton in this offense. Guys who play those positions will have a primary focus but ultimately will learn to run every route and get involved in most every aspect of the air attack. That includes pass protection and receiving, as the Falcons work to move the ball down the field using Desmond Ridder's arm.

Smith and GM Terry Fontenot worked hard to fortify the team around Ridder, to make the young quarterback's life as easy as possible heading into this season. They have done a good job of that.

Passing all starts up front and, as we all know, the Falcons offensive line is a foundational asset. Jake Matthews, [insert winner of left guard position battle here], Drew Dalman, Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary have potential to be as good as any line out there.

That should give Ridder time to get the ball out of his hand. He'll have plenty of options when choosing a target, most likely an individual schemed into an advantageous matchup. That's possible because the insane volume of versatility on this roster.

Bijan Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jonnu Smith can legit play anywhere. Kyle Pitts will line up in-line, the slot or on the outside. Drake London, Mack Hollins and Scotty Miller can move inside and out and can all take jet sweeps and make plays after coming in motion. Even Tyler Allgeier can be a factor as a receiver out of the backfield.

It will be fascinating to see how these talents are used, and how Arthur Smith uses new play designs to remain unpredictable. Then he'll use his own offensive game tape against defenses, putting defenders in binds with unscouted looks or slight variations to similar sets to make opponents guess wrong.

Talent along the offensive line, throughout the skill spots and on the coaching staff sets the Falcons up to be much better working through the air. The run/playaction game will help as well. There's no doubt they'll be better than last year, when the Falcons struggled to move the ball through the air, especially with Marcus Mariota at the helm.

The quarterback, then, will determine how good the passing attack can be. While you can say that about every team, that's especially true in this situation considering its somewhat of an unknown. Ridder played just four games last season and therefore still has plenty to prove.

He has the football smarts, leadership skills and arm talent to be a successful quarterback. He's also a gamer, which we saw from his Cincinnati tenure. Those are all important characteristics. Now Ridder has to use them to execute consistently over a long haul and establish himself as quality professional signal caller who avoids turnovers

The Falcons passing game, and the offense as a whole, will be dangerous if he can do that.

Join us for a sneak peek at some of our favorite photos of Desmond and Drake from the 2023 Atlanta Falcons creative days.

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