Falcons' Taylor Heinicke hangs on to QB1 job for now

League: NFL

Posted on: 06 Nov, 2023 at 08:47 PM

Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons will start Taylor Heinicke at quarterback for the second straight week this Sunday at Arizona.

Replacing the benched Desmond Ridder, Heinicke was 21-for-38 passing for 268 yards with one touchdown and one interception in Sunday's 31-28 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Head coach Arthur Smith confirmed Monday that Heinicke will be back under center when the Falcons (4-5) visit the Cardinals (1-8). Atlanta has a bye Week 11.

"We will go with Taylor this week," Smith said. "And reassess going into the bye."

Smith said he doesn't plan to rotate quarterbacks or use a two-QB system but instead will use the bye to determine the best course for the rest of the season.

There is nothing to assess with rookie running back Bijan Robinson, according to Smith, despite uproar over his relatively limited use. Robinson had 11 carries against the Vikings, his second game in a row with that number of rushing attempts.

The Falcons have handed him the ball 23 total times in the past three games. Smith said Atlanta is measuring usage by snap counts -- total number of plays -- not by touches.

"For any rookie, the season is long. You're going to have ebbs and flows. He's had a huge impact already," Smith said.

Atlanta scored a season-high 28 points in the loss to Minnesota but lost for the third time in four games.

Heinicke, 30, has completed 55.9 percent of his passes for 443 yards, two TDs and a pick in two games (one start).

Ridder, 24, has completed 65.4 percent of his throws for 1,701 yards, six TDs and six interceptions in eight starts. He's also fumbled seven times.

Smith said the Falcons are getting healthier with wide receiver Drake London, safety DeMarcco Hellams and fullback Keith Smith all "trending in the right direction" for the trip to Arizona.

--Field Level Media