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Bair Mail: On Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts and Arthur Smith's calculated risks

We discuss all that and more in this Friday mailbag. 

Can the Falcons really go 3-0? They've got a real shot at it, but it won't be easy.

Facing the Detroit Lions in their building and fresh off a difficult loss will add some degree of difficulty to the endeavor, but nothing's impossible with the way the Falcons are playing at this time.

There's plenty of room for improvement, especially in the passing game, the pass rush and with overall consistency, but the Falcons have been a tough fourth-quarter team that can wear an opponent out in the first three.

Despite the Lions working without C.J. Gardner-Johnson and with the possibility of missing other important players, this will be as tough a matchup as there is on the schedule. The Falcons must play their best game to date to leave the Motor City with a win.

Let's dive into your questions about the upcoming matchup in this Friday edition of Bair Mail:


Oswaldo Murray from Orlando, Fla.

First timer here. I was really upset with our first pick in the draft, boy was I wrong. I wanted Jalen Carter, but I think Robinson was the right choice. His ability to catch out of the backfield and make cuts are the difference in this year's offense. Our defense is improved, but still needs work. I really like the guts Coach Smith is showing in pressurize situations. With that being said, do you see us winning the South or is it too early to say?

Bair: In terms of your final question about winning the NFC South, yes, Oswaldo, it's too early to say. I do think the Falcons are off to a great start and have shown the talent and resolve required to win a division crown. You need some luck with health and quality play late in games. If they can get that, anything's possible with this group, in this division.

I did, however, want to riff on your first point, if you don't mind. You weren't the only Falcons fan wishing Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot would've selected someone else. Jalen Carter is a supreme talent who could have an impactful career.

You have to look a bit closer at what the Falcons need and who would be a fit for this organization and its schemes.

"We had a belief," head coach Arthur Smith said, "that he was a fit for our program."

The Falcons sought Bijan Robinson out because he's a versatile playmaker who seems tailor-made for Smith's system. He's so quick and agile and sneakily powerful, someone who always seems to find a way to do something positive. It has only been two games, but it's clear he's a true impact player for this team that will help right away and into the future. And, as running backs go, he doesn't take hits flush all that often. He's shifty and can avoid such contact, but can use power when necessary.

The more I watch him, the more I agree with Arthur Smith that Robinson isn't just a running back. He's a football player. And a darn good one at that. He's a great teammate and a good locker room presence guys want to block for.

Oh, and he can do this:

David Hicks from Marshalltown, Iowa

I think many (heck, all of us?) Falcons fans were concerned about the TWO 4th down conversions that helped extend drives that lead to scores. If they failed, we'd be having a much different conversation today. What are your thoughts on going for it on 4th down? I think past conservative play calling have conditioned us to accept a low risk, low reward outcome. I'm betting Coach Smith is the new gambler in town.

Bair: As you mentioned, David, the result of a do-or-die play matters a ton. Head coach Arthur Smith went for it on some big moments and hit big with them in the win over the Packers. Failure in those instances would've created a completely different narrative coming out of Week 2, but Smith's calls worked.

I don't think, however, he would call them gambles. He has talked a ton about the conviction and confidence held in those calls and the players charged with executing them. That's the important thing there. There was forethought and careful preparation to design plays that would work in those scenarios, and I think their quality execution will help in the long run.

It gave players confidence that their coach put so much trust in them, and it created a never-say-die, never-out-of-it mentality that could help them in close games down the road. Look, the Falcons aren't going to succeed in all of those instances. But having a plan and a proper mentality will help them execute more often than not.

Smith has proven to be solid thinking outside the box and willing to take calculated risks, but this isn't a riverboat gambler sort of a situation. He works to stack odds as much in the Falcons favor as possible and is working to build a culture and a team that thrives when the pressure's on. To this point in this season, he has done that well.


Isaac A from GA

Sooo, idk how ur gonna take this but I think we might just need to trade pitts. Now b4 u go crazy, hear me out. Now we both know Pitts is a PLAYMAKER, and that rookie szn was CRAZY! But it hasn't rly been the same these past couple years, ik he hasn't rly had a quality qb, but honestly, when u look at his film from this year and last year, he hasn't rly put in the same effort iyk what I mean, like he hasn't rly been putting effort in running routes and blocking, he doesn't rly seem happy here and he deserves btr, I'm just curious on what u think about this, and if we did trade, what do u think would be a good offer?

Bair: Let's dispel some rumors here. I challenge anyone who questions Kyle Pitts' lack of effort. You don't see that in his route running or run blocking. I don't think he has ever suggested or even implied unhappiness with his current situation. So, let's throw that reasoning out before we proceed.

In terms of a trade, I don't the Falcons would trade him. I surely wouldn't. Pitts is super talented and a great locker room presence. Just because he doesn't have massive stats right now doesn't mean that he won't by season's end. His spectacular Week 1 catch proved how good is as a receiver. Let's not forget he had 1,000-plus receiving yards in his last season fully healthy. He had some quarterback and health issues in 2022 and is just two games back in his return from that knee injury.

Patience should be exercised here, for sure. There's no way I move him now or at the deadline unless it's for a king's ransom.

Hassim Diallo from Lawrenceville, Ga.

Big fan of your and the mailbag! Now to my question. I have noticed during press conferences the first reporter to ask a question is always D-Led. Is it by design, due to seniority or because he represents AJC? Sorry not football question but an observation I am intrigued by.

Bair: This is a bit behind the scenes, Hassim, but a valid question. D-Led gets the first question as the senior member of the beat crew. He has been on the beat waaaaaay longer than any of us and it's a sign of respect for that seniority. It's not about the publication and more about the person. That's fairly common across NFL beats, with it happening when I covered the Chargers and 49ers especially. I like the tradition, honestly. The longtime grinders deserve first crack at a player or coach.

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the Detroit Lions, presented by Fast Twitch.

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