The Buccaneers have an opportunity to grab ahold of first place in the NFC South with a win in Atlanta this Sunday. The division would essentially be up for grabs, but the Falcons can take a stranglehold of it if they notch their third straight victory.
They’ll own a perfect 4-0 record against division foes and what could be a two-game lead over the Buccaneers and Saints with a 7-6 record, compared to potential 5-8 records if both clubs lose this weekend.
If the Falcons do win the division, it would end a postseason drought that dates back to 2017. Even more, it would be the first playoff contest since Mercedes Benz Stadium’s inception.
Of course, it’ll be a glorious day in Atlanta. It’s been a long time coming for Falcons fans, who have been hungry for another competent football team. However, I’m here to say that the club could be better off missing the postseason; a playoff berth could be a bad thing.
No, it’s not about draft picks because that’s a ludicrous argument. Draft position is far less valuable than establishing a winning culture. My logic surrounds the quarterback position and the potential complacency the club could have with Desmond Ridder.
If the club makes the playoffs with Ridder under center, I fear the regime will be fooled into going into the 2024 campaign without bringing in legitimate competition for him.
To this point, the Falcons have invested very little in the signal caller position. A third-round pick and a couple of measly two-year contracts for backup-caliber quarterbacks isn’t even close to what’s needed to get the most important position in all of sports right.
That’s not to say it can’t work out for some; it just hasn’t worked out in Atlanta with Ridder. He has shown flashes but describing his play as inconsistent would be generous. Ridder puts the ball in harm’s way far too often for what positive he does provide.
What’s even worse is his development has been stagnant at best. Marginal is another way to characterize it, and that just isn’t good enough. It’s the most impactful position in football and can be the difference between a roster ripe to compete for a championship or consistently underachieving.
Either you have the talent and scheme to elevate the quarterback to a championship — i.e., Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers — or you have a quarterback good enough to overcome schematic or other personnel differences.
The Falcons have championship-caliber talent but the scheme leaves something to be desired because of Arthur Smith’s elementary passing concepts. Desmond Ridder would need everything around him to be perfect to win a Super Bowl; the margin for error is incredibly thin.
Making the postseason could potentially give Arthur Smith, Terry Fontenot, and Arthur Blank unwarranted confidence in Desmond Ridder. That’s a bad thing.
Photographer: John Adams/Icon Sportswire