So, it's well below freezing cold in Atlanta as I write this Bair Mail. There's wind and rain that could turn to ice and make bad drivers of us all soon enough, just before a Christmas holiday. Hip, hip hooray.
Just imagine me, a dude from San Diego, dealing with the elements. Keep me in the slow lane. Ha. This isn't ideal, but we'll figure it out.
Just came in from BBQ-ing outside, with a snow jacket on – my parents are here and I'm good at it so, whatcha gonna do – and thought I'd answer a few question.
Zero shock, some were about Desmond Ridder. Though I appreciate Anthony Turner for asking a hyper-focused question. We got another one on Grady Jarrett's big year and the lack of nationwide respect for it, plus a look at how the Falcons could (and should) approach the 2023 NFL Draft. Yep, we've reached that point in the year. Unless the Falcons win at Baltimore and the rest of the NFC South loses, we could get even more of that. Beware. Ha.
Let's dive into what you want to talk about in this Friday mailbag:
Anthony Turner from Fort Mill, S.C.
I thought Ridder did a good job this past Sunday being that he was thrown into a tough game with hostile environment. Very tough on any rookie especially @ the quarterback position. But what I am interested in to see from Ridder is so not much just a strong arm but his accuracy. Can he place the ball on the outside shoulder of the receiver so only the receiver can get it? Can he place the ball on the back line of the end zone so that only the receiver can get it. This is what made Drew Brees & Tom Brady so good but what got Mariota benched. Not just arm strength but accuracy!! I know this will take time & practice, but I believe with what Ridder is made up of both physically & intellect this will & must happen.
Bair: Like this question. Anthony. Super specific. I dig it. Regarding Desmond Ridder's accuracy, its consistency was an issue during the pre-NFL-Draft process. It somewhat of a knock on Ridder's sterling resume, though part of that is because he takes big shots. He completed just 55 percent of his passes as a sophomore at Cincinnati, and was at 64.5 percent as a senior. That's not bad. At this level, however, hitting tight-window throws is essential. Can he do that on the regular?
Bringing up Tom Brady and Drew Brees is unfair here, because those two were as accurate as any throwers ever.
The one thing I can say for certain: One game's sample size isn't enough. Four isn't either, which is why we need to see signs of growth. So much talk this week, after a sub-100-yard performance was about offensive operation. That's vital, and he has crossed an early hurdle with all that, but even Ridder admits that post-snap performance needs to be better – en pointe, in fact – to be a truly productive passer.
Ridder can be that. I really think so. I also think he's clutch, a winner. Consistent accuracy, as you point out, Anthony, is a bit of an unknown he'll have to show progress with to drop quarterback down on the Falcons' priority list.
Isaac A from Ga.
How is it fair that Donald made the pro bowl over Jarrett, Grady's stats are better and not only did ad99 make it, HE'S THE STARTER, it's just not fair.
Bair: I understand your point, Isaac. Grady has had an excellent year on its own terms, and it may be even better with additional context. Rarely do you see players come out with fire after signing a long-term contract. Jarrett seemed even more motivated working on his third contract. Also, he hasn't had much help up front, especially after Ta'Quon Graham was lost to injury. It's Jarrett, an undrafted free agent and some journeymen along the line, and he's still close to a career high in sacks.
I'm not going to start a fire by comparing Jarrett to Aaron Donald, even when the superstar defensive tackle didn't play a full season. Pro Bowls are popularity contests. Don't forget that A.J. Terrell wasn't a Pro Bowler last year but was a second-team All-Pro. That should tell you all you need to know.
I know the entire league respects Jarrett. You can see that in how he's blocked. He has fought through that and found a way to show up in big moments. The nicest thing I can say about Grady is that he has earned his money. So many don't. He deserves the paycheck, whether the Pro Bowl honors come or not.
Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.
I've got a non-Ridder question for you. Instead, let's look to next year's draft. Terry says he drafts the best player available but I'd focus on the best defensive player available. We obviously need help at corner and edge rusher. Do you think he and Arthur would rethink their basic draft philosophy and draft for obvious need? Thanks.
Bair: Hey Will! Always appreciate the questions. I will say this about the NFL Draft. GMs always say that need best player available supersedes need. That's true to a point. Teams draft the best player available…within a cluster of needed premium positions. I'm talking about the first round obviously, but that's how it goes down.
The one time where need loses its mind is with quarterbacks. That's so important that QB-needy teams go nuts atop the draft in a normal year – P.S. 2022 was NOT a normal year – and go big. We don't know if the Falcons need a franchise quarterback or not, or where Desmond Ridder ranks versus the guys they can get. Time will tell on that front.
But, back to your point Will. I do think the Falcons could focus on a cluster of needed positions, depending on their depth throughout the draft, that would include edge rusher, defensive line, offensive tackle and cornerback. But…if they determine they need a quarterback and someone they consider a franchise type is available, then they go quarterback. I still think they need an elite pass rusher. So. Bad.
The guys put in the work in Flowery Branch to prepare for this week's game against the Baltimore Ravens.