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NFL World Reacts To Falcons' Starting Quarterback Change

Desmond Ridder and Marcus Mariota

Desmond Ridder throws during practice while Marcus Mariota watches.

The news of the day in the NFL on Thursday is that the Atlanta Falcons are changing quarterbacks, benching veteran Marcus Mariota for rookie Desmond Ridder.

Mariota wasn't terrible in his first season as the Falcons' starter. He completed 61.3 percent of his passes and scored 19 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. However, he ranks second-to-last among qualified quarterbacks in passing yards per game.

Safe to say Falcons fans and others around the NFL are excited to get a look at the third-round draft pick out of Cincinnati.

"Finally," one fan tweeted. "We go 3-1 these next 4 games and make the playoffs."

"I just dropped to my knees in the WalMart," wrote another. "Thank you Lord!!!!!"

The quarterback change has been generally interpreted as a move for the future, as Mariota was never expected to be the long-term answer behind center in Atlanta. He signed a two-year contract with the Falcons prior to this season, but his cap hit significantly increases in 2023.

The Falcons, having lost four of their past five games and with a bye in Week 14 to help get Ridder ready to take over the offense, are likely trying to ease Ridder's learning curve headed into next season by giving him a taste of game action as a rookie.

"Like this for a handful of reasons," Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus tweeted. 
"- Needed to be done; Mariota wasn't effective enough in passing game
- Mariota's cap hit goes from $4mil to $14 mil next season; can save $12mil
- Hopefully means Ridder isn't behind schedule and is ready to get in and learn from real action."

That said, while the Falcons are just 5-8 on the year, it's not out of the question that the team could make the playoffs if Ridder provides a spark and it gets hot. 

The Falcons are just a game-and-a-half back of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South, and they face the Bucs in Week 18.

Ridder will make his NFL debut when the Falcons travel to face the New Orleans Saints in Week 15.