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'He can't do it on his own': Falcons locker room stands with quarterback Desmond Ridder

As outsiders questioned Desmond Ridder's status as the Falcons starting quarterback, his teammates fully supported him.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The fact running back Bijan Robinson texted quarterback Desmond Ridder as soon as the Atlanta Falcons returned home from their international trip could have remained private. But the simple gesture from the rookie meant enough to Ridder in that moment he later shared the tidbit in his weekly press conference.

Robinson's reassurance came after the Falcons lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4 and before Ridder's status as the Falcons starter was publicly questioned in the days that followed.

"We're human," Robinson said. "I think, obviously, when there's a quarterback on a team, they're going to get the heat whether good or bad. So, I was just making sure that Desmond understood, don't pay attention to none of that. Just understand that you have a job to do: You are a leader. Don't ever forget that."

Ridder is still QB1, too. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith made it clear he has no intentions of changing that role in Week 5, as the team prepares to host the Houston Texans this Sunday (1 p.m. ET, FOX). That decision has received support among Ridder's offensive counterparts.

And yet, because Smith was asked, so were players.

How do the Falcons move forward with Ridder still at the helm?

"I got his back. We all do," Robinson said. "I think it's going to be better. It's Week 4. We have a whole season to go. He'll be all right."

Said tight end Kyle Pitts: "Just keep chopping wood. While we're doing that, supporting him and being around him. Play as hard as we can for him."

Said offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom: "Des is an ultimate competitor and a true professional. That's why we love him so much."


It's no secret there was a video making rounds on the internet that made it appear as if another teammate felt differently.

Late in the second quarter of the Jaguars loss, the ESPN+ broadcast caught Ridder going up to wide receiver Mack Hollins on the sideline, looking for a high-five or something of that nature. Hollins, instead, snapped in anger.

Not only did Hollins clarify in a postgame interview his reaction was not directed toward Ridder, he did so again this week. It was meant for the offense overall.

"Obviously, looking at the clip after the game, it looks like I'm talking to Des," Hollins said. "Like, who the hell am I to talk to a quarterback about how to throw a ball? Like, have I dropped a ball? Yes. So, I have no business telling a quarterback how to throw a ball. … We weren't playing at our standard, and I was frustrated about that. That's what my outburst was about. Des just happened to be there, the guy that was in front of me."

Ridder knows that. There's no bad blood between the two.

Besides, the offense's lack of production — one touchdown in the last two games — isn't a point of pride for anyone. The hope is things will start clicking for the Falcons offensively this weekend. Because the defense has been doing its job, holding every opponent to less than 25 points so far.

Even that performance difference between the two units, though, hasn't created a divide. Everyone is aware it's a team game. Blame can't fall solely on Ridder's shoulders.

"On Monday, when he came in, everybody was rallying around him," Robinson said. "He was in the locker room, just like all of us, having fun. He had a smile on his face. …

"I appreciate all the guys for rallying around him because he can't do it on his own. He has to have a team around him to be there for him."

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