Atlanta's change at quarterback on Sunday has plunged the Falcons into uncertainty.
Ridder was evaluated for a possible concussion near halftime, but was cleared to return. He did not, however, instead being replaced by Heinicke in what appeared to be a benching of Ridder.
On Monday, Smith left the door open for either Ridder or Heinicke to start this coming Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, a decision that should receive more clarity Wednesday.
"I gotta see where he's at. That's the best I can give you," Smith said of Ridder's health. "I got to see where he's at. Got to see if that's the best thing for this team this week. Obviously, it's not something I'm concerned long-term, he's done a lot of good things. But we gotta go find a way to go with this game. If it's Taylor, that's what we'll do. My concern is Des."
The typically gruff Smith reiterated on Monday his reasoning for keeping Ridder out of the second half of Sunday's loss wasn't exactly due to performance.
"There's a reason he came out. So my concern is about the player," Smith told reporters. "The health can affect performance. So as you make those decisions. Again, I'm not ever going to claim to be a medical expert, as the game was going on they say 'OK, he's clear.' But the way the rhythm was … I had to make the decision of I'm going to let Taylor stay in there because I had some concerns, but that was my personal decision."
It sounds as if Smith preferred what Heinicke was providing Atlanta's offense over what Ridder had done in the first half, and because Ridder had been evaluated for a concussion, Smith had reason to believe it was likely wiser to stay with Heinicke, both from football and health standpoints. He also wanted to be entirely certain Ridder was healthy enough to play.
"Just because they may clear in the game, the NFL does a great job, they're going to take more tests," Smith explained when asked why Ridder could potentially not play if he had been cleared on Sunday. "I've held players out that have been cleared and we have that precedent here. So, (if) that's my flaw for being conservative with players, so be it. Just got to make the best decision for the team."
The best decision for the team on Sunday ended up being Heinicke, a player who isn't new to stepping into games and sparking offenses. With Heinicke in the game, the Falcons pieced together four scoring drives, finishing within five points of tying the game before it ended. Heinicke, meanwhile, posted a 12-for-21, 175-yard, one-touchdown passing line, outplaying Ridder in the stat sheet.
This, combined with Atlanta's 4-4 record, will lead many to expect Smith to turn to Heinicke in Week 9.
We'll see by the middle of the week if that is the case.