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Arthur Smith: I’m not going to answer hypotheticals about Desmond Ridder’s playing time

From a team with a new starting QB and head coach on the hot seat to a team that's upgraded on both sides of the ball, Mike Florio and Chris Simms dive into the NFC South to assess win totals for the 2022-23 season.

Because the Falcons selected Desmond Ridder in the third round of this year’s draft, the club likely figured the quarterback would need some time to develop.

Ridder enters his rookie season as the backup to Marcus Mariota, who signed with Atlanta in March. But there could come a time this season when it behooves the Falcons to see what they have in Ridder.

But head coach Arthur Smith is not focused on that scenario. And Smith bristled on Monday when he was asked how many games he thinks Ridder needs to play to get an accurate assessment of the young quarterback.

“I’m not answering the hypothetical, fantasy football, that kind of BS. It’s hypothetical,” Smith said in his press conference. “We want to know what we have in Marcus Mariota. If you want to make this about ’23, I mean, you can ask every which way. We’re focused on Week One.

“I’m not going to hear about some hypothetical — that’s not where our focus is right now. Our focus is on the New Orleans Saints. If you want to hang out with the bots on Twitter and social media and get all of these hypothetical G.M. scenarios or great team-building — some of these other asinine narratives — go ahead, but we’re focused on the New Orleans Saints. I’m not going to answer questions about hypotheticals.”

Smith’s reaction is understandable. Now that the regular season has begun, of course all of his focus has to be on beating the Saints and making sure Mariota is prepared to do so. And because Ridder was a third-round pick, there isn’t the same urgency to get him on the field as a rookie.

But if Mariota doesn’t look any better than the last time Smith was calling plays for him back with the Titans in 2019, then the calls for Ridder to play will only get louder as the 2022 season continues.