Despite the fact the Atlanta Falcons are in first place in the NFC South, it looks as if a change is coming at quarterback. What has been manned by second-year QB Desmond Ridder for the first eight games of the season is now being handed off to journeyman Taylor Heinicke.

Although the Falcons find themselves first in their division, it has been more about a struggling division than anything great Atlanta has done on the field. With the team sensing a chance to capture a very winnable division crown, the Falcons are choosing to make a switch now rather than later.

Interestingly enough, Heinicke has found himself in similar situations before. He’s not a stranger to being thrust into a starting role midseason, and by and large, has played well with his opportunities.

With the Washington Commanders, Heinecke started 25 games and tallied a record of 12-12-1 during that time, as well as bringing them to the playoffs, where they ultimately lost in a close Wild Card matchup against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The move is clearly with this year in mind. With an opportunity to actually lock in a playoff berth if they are able to stabilize the ship, there’s no time like the present to make the switch.

Naturally, with a move at signal-caller coming at such an interesting time in the season, the announcement of the switch was met with fan reaction. Let’s take a closer look at how Falcons fans and NFL fans around the league alike reacted.

NFL Fans React to Falcons Benching Desmond Ridder

Much like everything else when it comes to social media, the first thought of any news is to lead with some type of humor.

Some feel that Heinicke gives Atlanta its best chance to win now, and maybe the feeling within the walls of the Falcons’ facility is a similar one.

“Coaching staff clearly starting to feel some pressure to win.”

One fan pointed out that Sunday will now showcase Jaren Hall vs. Heinicke. This will certainly be an interesting QB battle on Sunday.

“Jaren Hall vs. Taylor Heinicke this week. I’ve never been more excited for a football game in my life. This is my personal Super Bowl.”

Is Taylor Heinicke the Answer?

Clearly, this is a move the Falcons are making to help them right now, but does this move help them at all in the future?

That’s the question they’re looking to find the answers to over the next nine games. While the focus seems to be on winning enough games to win the NFC South and making a run into the playoffs, this offers a unique study period to see just how they should hand their quarterback position going forward.

MORE: Why Did the Raiders Bench Jimmy Garoppolo?

Over Heinicke’s 35 appearances and 25 starts in his career, he has accumulated 5,920 passing yards with a completion percentage of 63.7%. He also threw 35 touchdowns and 24 interceptions during that time.

Heinicke, in all likelihood, will serve as a possible stopgap for the next guy if they don’t believe that Ridder is their future at quarterback. However, it presents an opportunity for the Falcons organization to decide if Ridder or the system is the current problem.

For Heinicke, it serves as another opportunity for him to prove he belongs as an NFL starter. He’s known for being a fierce competitor who has no problem doing what is asked of him, but you know that Heinicke is excited for the chance to go out there and make plays on Sunday.

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