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What Arthur Smith said about the quarterback position moving forward after Week 15 loss to Carolina

The head coach did not name a starter for Week 16, but said it is between Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke.  

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Arthur Smith did not name a starting quarterback during his Monday afternoon press conference. The Falcons head coach said he had spoken to the quarterbacks prior to his meeting with local media, but added that the Falcons have not yet reached a decision about what they'll do with the signal caller position moving forward.

"(The decision is) not final," Smith said. "We're still working through that."

Smith said his plan is to "circle back with those guys," and that the Falcons have "to make the best decision for the team."

The head coach was asked directly if Logan Woodside or a quarterback outside the building could be an option for the Falcons this Sunday. Smith's response was a firm no, so the decision will be between Ridder and Heinicke.

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and quarterback Desmond Ridder #9 during practice at Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

The Falcons went to Heinicke in the weeks leading up to their Week 11 bye.

Heinicke suffered a hamstring injury in the Falcons Week 10 loss to the Cardinals and Ridder finished the fourth quarter in Heinicke's place. Smith said during this time that the Falcons did not want to play "musical chairs" at the quarterback position. They made the decision to go back to Ridder following the bye week with the understanding that he would finish out the year for the Falcons. The conversation changed after the Falcons 9-7 loss in Charlotte, N.C. this past Sunday, though, with Smith saying, "nothing is set in stone."

Ridder was 12-for-20 through the air with 152 passing yards and one touchdown in Charlotte. The moment that changed the game, though, was a late-game interception by Ridder that set up the Panthers game-winning drive. Asked about the interception after the game, Ridder said he was trying "to do too much," and should have thrown the ball away or kept it and picked up a yard to live to fight another down.

As Scott Bair pointed out in his post-game column, Ridder has accumulated 10 interceptions and 11 fumbles in 2023, with 16 turnovers and six turnovers in the red zone. He has also turned the ball over twice inside the Falcons 20-yard line this season.

Through his appearance in four games this season, Heinicke was 41-of-74 through the air for 498 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 55.4 completion percentage.

Take a monochrome look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers during Week 15.

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