Washington Commanders v Atlanta Falcons
Kara Durrette

The Atlanta Falcons currently sit atop the NFC South at 4-4, but not all has been great through the first half of the 2023 season. Following the Falcons' 28-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, head coach Arthur Smith is making a quarterback switch. It will be Taylor Heinicke under center when Atlanta hosts the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9. 

"So, just for this week, just with all variables, just kind of considering everything the last 72 hours and what we feel is best for this week for us against Minnesota, Taylor will play this week," Smith said. 

Desmond Ridder
ATL • QB • #9
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Ridder completed 8 of 12 passes for 71 yards in the first half vs. the Titans, but was also sacked five times and lost one fumble. He was replaced by Heinicke in the third quarter, and reportedly evaluated for a concussion. In relief of Ridder, Heinicke sparked the offense, and completed 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown. 

Ridder averages 212.6 passing yards per game this season (No. 20 in the NFL), and has thrown six touchdowns (No. 27) compared to six interceptions (T-10th most). Turnovers have been an issue for Ridder, as he leads the NFL in giveaways with 12. The former third-round pick out of Cincinnati has turned the ball over 10 times in just the last five games, including three red-zone turnovers in the Week 7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Heinicke came over from the Washington Commanders in free agency this past offseason. An undrafted quarterback out of Old Dominion, Heinicke quickly became a fan favorite in Washington, as he gave Tom Brady and the Buccaneers a close game in his first-ever start for the Commanders -- which came in the playoffs back during the 2020 season. Heinicke threw for 306 yards, one touchdown, one interception and rushed for another score in that 31-23 loss. 

In his NFL career, Heinicke has gone 12-12-1 as a starter for the Commanders and Carolina Panthers, and has thrown 35 touchdowns compared to 24 interceptions. He gets another chance to prove himself as a legitimate starter in this league against Jaren Hall and the Vikings on Sunday.