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Bair Mail: On the Arthur Smith, Matt Ryan partnership, NFL trade deadline options and a Lee Smith tribute

We discuss those topics and more in this week's mailbag


Happy bye week, everyone.

Hope you have something fun planned for this upcoming Sunday, with the Falcons taking a week off. Go for a hike or spin on the lake or something, because we all know you'll be glued to the couch every other Sunday during the Falcons season.

You should feel good during this bye, after the team's 27-20 victory over the New York Jets in London. While the game was too close at the end, the Falcons did a lot of good things over the course of four quarters.

It's clear from your mailbag submissions that confidence in Matt Ryan and Arthur Smith is going up, while causes for concern remain.

Let's take a look at all those things, plus a tribute to Lee Smith, in Wednesday's Bair Mail:

Bobby Hendricks from Huntsville, Ala.

I personally feel great about this new coaching regime. The Arthur Smith hire feels really right. He makes good decisions. He doesn't duck. We may finally have our guy, I just hope it's not too late for Matt Ryan to reap the benefits!

Bair: I agree with you, Bobby. I have great respect for Smith and how he has handled the season's initial portion, setting a solid tone that demands accountability, prohibits excuse makers and doesn't allow anyone to play the victim card.

In terms of his offense, I think it's coming together well considering the talent available to him. Ryan has already reaped some benefit from playing in this scheme, and the partnership is going well at this point.

Smith discussed that on Monday, saying he and Ryan are about 70 percent in sync, with room to grow as the season moves forward.

"As Matt (Ryan) and I have gone through games, I have gone on record and said that there would be a natural evolution because it's like a new marriage so to speak, I guess," Smith said. "I'm really pleased with how Matt's playing."

Smith has said several times he appreciates working with Ryan as a field general, and the veteran quarterback has executed the scheme efficiently, especially of late. Ryan said a month ago that the Falcons would be better as the season moved forward, and he was right. That progression should continue as we carry forward, as long as injury doesn't eat into the offensive talent base.

Ronald Shearer from Port Orange, Fla.

Is there a trade that we could possibly make before the deadline? And I'm asking that believing Matt Ryan is still very capable of taking this team to the Super Bowl. Or, do we just hold off and work in the free agency and next year's draft? Hopefully with the plan of getting bigger and better up front on both sides of the ball.

One comment, I sure hope we keep Patterson.

Bair: Thanks for the question, Ronald. It's a timely one with the NFL trade deadline on the horizon. I just don't see the Falcons making a move to acquire talent before Nov. 2. Draft assets are solid gold to a team in poor standing with the salary cap, trying to build depth and a solid young foundation.

Terry Fontenot should be stockpiling picks, not giving them away for a quick fix. In that light, the Falcons could be sellers at the deadline, especially in areas where they have veterans with young talent behind them on the depth chart. Safety is a spot that comes to mind, where Fontenot could get a late-round asset.

Regarding Cordarrelle Patterson, the playmaker's on a one-year deal and is the midst of a career year. That means a raise is coming from someone, though staying with a team and an offensive scheme that has finally unlocked vast potential might prove enticing. This might be an extension worth visiting during the season or right after to avoid him hitting the open market.

Kerry Miller from Centerville, Ga.

This is more of a comment than question. I loved how the first person to run over and congratulate Pitts on his TD was Smith. I know he is a short-term player but I really like what Smith has brought to the TEs and offensive side. An older brother vet like that can mean the world to Pitts and Hurst. If you happen to see him, tell him his good work is noticed.

Bair: I will pass it along, Kerry. I've known Lee a good while now after covering him for three years on the Raiders. He's one of my favorite athletes I've ever covered – yes, I've got a list – and is just a genuinely good human being in addition to being a solid player and fantastic quote.

He has been excellent in his on-field role and as a leader for rookie Kyle Pitts. He has shown Pitts how to be a pro and navigate his role and his new NFL life, providing an invaluable resource to the No. 4 overall pick.

Want to see how Smith feels about Pitts, and why he was first to congratulate him after the touchdown? Read this:

Akshay S from Robinsville, N.J. and Jim Rettinger from Roanoke, Ala.

Akshay: Why don't we try going for Mitchell Schwartz or David DeCastro?

Jim: Hey Bair, Brian Poole and Desmond Trufant became available Tues. Any chance Falcons could look at these guys to shore up secondary?

Bair: Since you both asked about adding veterans off the street, I combined your questions into one. Hope you don't mind.

Regarding the offensive line, Smith has been willing to let young players develop and learn on the job. That has paid off with Jalen Mayfield especially, so bringing in a veteran guard would fly in the face of that. They also have Josh Andrews possibly close to a return as a backup option. Jake Matthews is fine, and they'd like to see what they've got in Kaleb McGary before making tough choices at right tackle.

I think the same thing goes for the secondary. They have young talent they're trying to develop – they drafted three defensive backs this offseason, after all – and you also have to think there's a reason why veterans hit the street. One variable is Fabian Moreau's health. If his status is uncertain – we don't know what it is after he got banged up against the Jets – a veteran might be an option. I still think they'd prefer to go with the guys they have and develop longer-term projects.

Call for questions

We're taking a break over the bye weekend, so there won't be a Bair Mail until Monday, but go ahead and fill the mailbag with topics for that date. You can submit your questions/comments right here.


Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast

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Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.

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