Falcons coach Raheem Morris roasts Desmond Ridder: 'If we had better quarterback play ... I might not be standing here'

If there was any doubt about Desmond Ridder's future as the Atlanta Falcons' quarterback, Raheem Morris put it to rest on Tuesday.

The new head coach spoke candidly at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis about Ridder's play last season. He didn't specifically mention Ridder by name. He didn't have to.

"If we had better quarterback play last year in Atlanta, I might not be standing here," Morris told reporters.

Morris was hired this offseason to replace Arthur Smith, whose Falcons lost 10 games in each of his three seasons as head coach. To Morris' point, Smith might still have a job had Ridder played better last season. But he didn't, and the Falcons are in search of a new quarterback.

Morris believes Falcons can win next season

Morris made his statement in the context of the talent that does have a future with the Falcons. He credited the team's front office past and present, including general manager Terry Fontenot, with acquiring talent that he believes gives the Falcons a chance to compete next season. If they find a quarterback, that is.

"Now, it's time to implement a couple new things, go out there and find out who's gonna be the triggerman for us and put ourselves in a position to win," Morris said. "I'm not afraid to say that we have the ability, and we're capable of going out there to win next year. If we do some of the right things, make the right moves, we can do that.

"And that's not an arrogance. That's not a cockiness. That is more of a credit to the people who are in the building with me still and the people still and some of the people who are not there now."

Raheem Morris did not mince words about Atlanta's quarterback play last season. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Raheem Morris did not mince words about Atlanta's quarterback play last season. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

That talent includes running back Bijan Robinson, tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Drake London, each of whom was selected with a top-8 pick in his respective draft. The pressure is on to capitalize on those investments, and that means finding a new quarterback.

Fontenot reiterated that doing so is a priority this offseason in an interview with the team's website.

"I am very excited about where we are, but we will be aggressive and we have to make this total team better," Fontenot said. "Clearly, we're going to get the quarterback position right, not close."

What will Falcons do at QB?

The Falcons don't have a clear path to finding their next quarterback. NFL veterans Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson could potentially be available. Barring a trade up from the No. 8 pick, the Falcons aren't in position to land any of the upcoming draft's top prospects, Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. There are less appealing options to be found deeper in the draft.

Where does all this leave Ridder? Other than not the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, the answer is unclear.

A third-round pick in the 2022 draft, Ridder entered last season as Atlanta's starter. By Week 9, he was benched in favor of backup Taylor Heinicke. He returned in Week 10, only to be benched again by Week 15.

He finished the season having completed 64.2% of his passes for 189.1 yards per game with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 15 appearances. He fumbled 12 times, losing seven. Heinicke didn't fare much better while tallying five touchdowns and four interceptions in five appearances.

The Falcons finished 7-10 and missed the playoffs for a sixth straight season. Whoever gets the call at quarterback next season will be under intense pressure to improve on that mark.