Even a hopeless situation for the offense couldn’t demoralize the Arizona Cardinals defense in their 27-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. We talked extensively about the fact the Redbirds held Cleveland to just 4.6 yards per play, and it’s something they can parlay into their Week 10 outing vs. the Atlanta Falcons.
Today, we heard that the Falcons will once again roll with Taylor Heinicke, despite the 30-year-old career backup’s pedestrian numbers. So far in 2023, Heinicke is 33 for 59 with a 55.9 completion percentage, 443 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, and an 84.2 quarterback rating.
While the Cardinals will deal with a strong rushing attack and their defense has struggled at times this season against the run, they also showed us yesterday that they can slow it down. If the Cards can once again clamp down on the run and slow Atlanta’s backs, their passing defense could be in for a strong outing against Heinicke.
Arizona Cardinals passing defense could come up big on Sunday
While Henicke has proven himself capable of playing well throughout his NFL career, it’s also worth noting that he never latched on as a full-time starter for multiple seasons. He did start in 15 games in 2021, but only after Ryan Fitzpatrick sustained a season-ending injury that led to the aging quarterback to subsequently retiring following the season.
Henicke went 5-3-1 in 2022 when he started nine games in place of Carson Wentz, and has since taken on a backup role on the move to Atlanta. But, with Heinicke starting, it also could mark the beginning of a quarterback controversy with the Falcons this Sunday at State Farm Stadium.
While Atlanta’s offense looked alive on Sunday with Heinicke leading them to 28 points, there is always the thought of the former incumbent Desmond Ridder awaiting his second chance if the Cards can force Heinicke into making a few mistakes next week. If that’s the case, it could very well rattle the 30-year-old looking to remain in the driver’s seat, and lead to some desperate measures as he looks to fend off Ridder.
It’s your stereotypical quarterback quandary in Atlanta, and oftentimes, these don’t go well with either quarterback amounting to much production. If the Arizona Cardinals force Heinicke into overthinking things and making a mistake or two, it will play into their hands come Sunday, and this is a team that needs something big to capitalize on.
Source: Falcons sticking with Taylor Heinicke as QB against Cardinals by Michael Rothstein, ESPN.com
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)