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Bair Mail: On Desmond Ridder, Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons fourth-quarter performance and more

We also discuss the foundation of the Falcons culture in this Wednesday mailbag.

The Falcons have had a fun start to the season, with wins on each part of a two-game home stand. They beat Carolina in Week 1 and erased a late, two-score deficit to get by the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.

Reminiscing about what has been done is now over. It's Wednesday, meaning it's time to turn the page towards Sunday's clash with the host Detroit Lions. There's plenty to evaluate about that matchup as the Falcons try to go 3-0 for the first time since 2017.

Let's dig into it through your questions about the Falcons to this point and what's required for them to get even better in this Wednesday Bair Mail.


Barry Price from Rome, Ga.

I'll keep this one simple. What did you think of Desmond Ridder's performance on Sunday?

Bair: There were certainly some throws Desmond Ridder would like back, including a pair that hit a Packers defender and dropped and another that ended up an interception when he got hit by Kenny Clark. There were some that weren't quite in a perfect place, whether it led to a completion or not. All that said, though, Ridder made plays when it mattered.

The pass downfield to Drake London on third-and-long, the trick play/deep shot to Mack Hollins and his not-afraid-of-contact touchdown run should count among the keys to a victory over the Green Bay Packers. I'm not the first person to say that Ridder's a gamer. I don't think I'll be the last.

Ridder doesn't get rattled, an important trait for a young quarterback learning on the job. Look, he's bound to make mistakes. Does he learn from them? Can he move on quickly and rally the next play, the next series? That's as important as anything as he continues to grow.

While we can be critical of a somewhat uneven performance, here's a good stat: Ridder was 10 for 13 passing for 139 yards and a touchdown when throwing to receivers outside the numbers. That's a plus right there.

So is the backing of Ridder's head coach. Arthur Smith is a believer.

"He's a winner. Guys believe him. You can see it," Smith said. "I think in those critical situations, he's at his best, and that's been his history. ... These guys love him. He embodies what we're about, and it was a good all-around game by the entire team."


Kolik Holmes from North Carolina

Who is one player on this team that needs more playtime/touches besides the obvious Kyle Pitts? Do you think we should continue playing this way or become more reliant on our receiving stars to win games?

Bair: Since you took the obvious choice, I'm going to veer in a slightly different direction, Kolik. Before I do, I want to reiterate that Kyle Pitts needs to be a greater part of the passing game. Last year, he had trouble with quarterbacks delivering catchable passes. While that has been a more minor thing this year, the other issue becomes quality options in the passing game. The Falcons have a ton and Desmond Ridder is spreading the ball around. All that said, Pitts is a dynamic playmaker who we'd like to see with the ball in his hands more often.

Now on to a direct answer to your question. Mack Hollins and Jonnu Smith have been more involved in the passing attack, which has been key. I'm curious to see how Cordarrelle Patterson fits into all this. His touch count is currently at zero as he continues to recover from a thigh injury.

The man they consider a Joker remains a wild card who can line up at every skill position. How much he's used in each spot will be interesting and will add a unique layer to this offense. He's a physical presence on traditional runs and can be dangerous as heck when he receives the ball in space. How much of a player will he be with so many dynamic offensive options? I legit have no idea. But I can't wait to see how Arthur Smith and the Falcons use him when he eventually returns to game action.


Bryan Schaffer from Asheville, N.C.

An encouraging sign thus far is the 4th quarter, where the Falcons have the edge over their two opponents ….27-0! How much of that do you think is coaching, and/or this team's ability to wear teams down over the course of the game? Thanks!

Bair: I like one side of that stat a bit more than the other, Bryan. The 27 is nice, but the 0 is amazing and has been the key to the Falcons being 2-0 so far this season.

The new-look Falcons defense was able to maintain a two-score lead in the fourth quarter against Carolina because the pass rush came to life in a series of snaps where throwing was a must. The defense helped erase a two-score deficit against the Packers by giving the offense opportunities to fight back against a static score.

They allowed just 11 net yards and no first downs in the fourth quarter against Green Bay. Now, is it players or coaches? It's obviously both, though talent always reigns supreme in these debates. The Falcons have better pass rushers up front, with a heavy rotation that allows them to stay fresh. They also continue to play aggressive – that's no shock with Ryan Nielsen calling the shots – even late in games.

In terms of the concept that the Falcons wear you down, I buy that. They run so much and are so physical when they do it that defenses will tire. We've heard players say they noticed some opposing exhaustion after both games. That does play a factor, but I think the defense staying aggressive and clamping down in the clutch has been the biggest key to the Falcons finishing strong.


Thomas Holt from Fitzgerald, Ga.

As a lifelong Falcons' fan, it's remarkable to see the team finding a real nice rhythm, especially heading into the Detroit game. Another thing I've noticed, is the change of culture that the team has developed recently, and may I say, a fantastic one. It seems as if in these first two home games, the whole city and state has been behind the dirty birds, and it feels great. What role do you believe our young guys play in feeding into this culture, and developing it further? In a sense of both play style and off the field actions.

Bair: I think the culture and expectation established during this offseason has come from guys like Jessie Bates III, Calais Campbell and Grady Jarrett, plus a larger collection of veterans who have set a standard for younger players to follow.

I talked to Chris Lindstrom about this the other day and he says that finishing is a key component to the Falcons culture. Finish each play, each drive, each game. You can see guys on tape going the extra mile to make sure a play goes well. Those who don't are quickly identified on tape, and nobody wants to be the guy not pulling his weight. That, more than anything else, is where it starts.

I think the younger players have a role in this, in that they're good teammates who have immersed themselves in what is being built here. They'll be charged with paying it forward in time and keeping this good thing going. The next test, though, is hard times that will inevitably come. It's easy to buy in when the team is winning. What will happen under duress? The Falcons believe they've added players who stand up well to adversity. That will be as important a test as any for these Falcons and what's being built here.

Call for questions

We've got another Bair Mail coming at you on Friday! Submit your questions right here for inclusion in that morning's mailbag.

Take a monochrome look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers during Week 2.

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