The Falcons got back from London around 1 a.m. on (technically) Monday morning. While the players got some time off, the organization got right back to work.
No choice. They don't have a bye after making the trans-Atlantic trip – it was a choice, and a smart one, over taking such an early week off – so they've got to get ready for a surging Houston Texans squad while trying to stop a losing streak.
This two-game slide has Falcons fans in a bad mood. That's clear from looking at the mailbag, where there's plenty of doom and gloom surrounding a 2-2 team with plenty of talent in a wide-open division. While I think that's a bit reactionary, the Falcons need to overcome some issues to get right and start stacking wins.
We'll go over some of those issues in this Wednesday edition of Bair Mail.
Let's break down some Falcons issues and how to fix them right…about…now:
Kevin White from Youngsville, N.C.
What's going on with Cordarrelle Patterson?
Bair: Cordarrelle Patterson was active for the first time this season, but he didn't see many snaps against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Just one on offense and six on special teams, as a matter of fact.
If you follow the Falcons closely, that shouldn't be a huge surprise. The organization is deliberate in how they ramp players back up after injury, often giving them more than a week's practice before activation and a limited role once they get back to game action. They did those things with Mike Hughes and Jeff Okudah.
Them doing so with Patterson isn't a shock. They definitely don't want setbacks, especially with an older player who plays a pivotal role. So we could/should see regular activity in Week 5 against the Texans, with the hope that he can sustain health moving forward.
Head coach Arthur Smith said the Falcons had more work planned for Patterson but the game dictated they go in other directions.
"It was his first game back," Smith said. "We had some things for him, but when you start that slow. It was a lot of time for him to be on the bench. He got in for a play late, but that's the thing. As CP continues to get healthy, where he can be more of a part of it. We had a couple of things for him. The way it flowed early on, didn't get to it. Would hope to continue to take another step this week because if you get a healthy CP out there, that can certainly help our offense."
Josh B from Denver
At what point should Arthur Smith & Co. decide that Ridder is not playing up to their standards and give Taylor Heinicke a shot? Thanks, I love reading the mailbag every week!
Bair: Appreciate the kind words, Josh. Now on to your question. I don't think we're close to a quarterback change. It definitely isn't coming in Week 5, as Arthur Smith stated over and over and over again in his Monday press conference.
He'll continue to evaluate the quarterback position, which means he needs to see the good and bad from Desmond Ridder and how he reacts to both. Sure, this is Ridder's second season, but he has only eight professional starts to his credit. That's, well, not a lot.
He's still learning and developing as an NFL quarterback. He's going to make mistakes. Book it. His response is key. Ultimately, the Falcons have to figure out if Ridder's a long-term answer at the game's most important position. While some have already made up their mind, the jury's still out. We need more evidence to support any argument. Going to Taylor Heinicke at this stage doesn't make tons of sense. If certain trends continue, then consider it. But I think Ridder deserves patience and lots of it. Let him work and learn and develop. Gotta do it, even after experiencing pain points.
One thing I can say for certain: Arthur Smith is objective. He prides himself on that. If he doesn't feel that Ridder's the guy moving forward, he'll try to save the season with Heinicke and figure out a long-term solution. But we aren't there yet. Not anywhere close are four weeks of this season.
Mike S from Calgary, Ontario, Canada
I have to ask about Pitts who has been missing all year it feels like - last year we were very quick to blame a lack of connection with the QB but I'm seeing the exact same thing this year... is there something missing between Pitts and Ridder?
Bair: This isn't a QB/TE connection thing at this point. Kyle Pitts is an elite talent who would be a major factor in any offense. Sometimes we see these players return from major injury faster and faster. Just because they're back doesn't mean they're automatically the same. I've fielded questions about whether Kyle Pitts is 100 percent. I said we'd never know because he ain't telling, but he isn't dogging it. Not his style.
But, let's be honest. He tore an MCL last November. That's not that long ago. Explosiveness and burst can take some time to fully come back. Even Pitts at whatever percentage he's at is still pretty good. Better is on the horizon. Here's what Smith said about Pitts and where he's at in his recovery.
"There's no perfect timetables, but there are certain things that you see him doing really well right now," Smith said. "There are certain things that have been a journey back that he's going to get there. I'd hate to put percentages on it, but you have to acknowledge that – I thought yesterday, there were some things outside where he looked as fast as he did as a rookie. So, it's getting close. But, to Kyle's credit, he continue to work, and work extremely hard behind the scenes. Never made an excuse out of anything. That's the best answer I can give you."
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in our Friday edition of Bair Mail.