Skip to main content

Bair Mail: On Desmond Ridder development, Richie Grant, Derek Carr and Ryan Tannehill

We break down all that and more in the last mailbag of the year (but not of the season)

The Falcons have two games left this season, with plenty to examine and analyze in each one as we create an offseason priority list.

Where are the Falcons set? Where to they need help?


We explore some of that in this Friday Bair Mail. We spend more time, however, on quarterback possibilities for the future, including a pair of established veterans who could be Falcons options should they choose to pursue them.

Let's get right to your questions in the final mailbag of the week. And, technically, the final mailbag of the year. Happy New Year, you crazy kids.

AJ Kal from ???

Is Desmond Ridder the future or is drafting a QB in the draft the correct option?

Bair: Direct and to the point, A.J. I can dig it. I think there are two questions in here, though, whether you meant for that or not. I'm also going to ignore the word "Or"

Q: Is Desmond Ridder the quarterback of the future?

A: No way to know after two starts. Probably won't know for sure after four games, either, even if he's awesome and beats the Cardinals and Bucs to close out the season right. The sample size isn't big enough, in my opinion. These four games can give you an inkling, a leaning. It could also eliminate a quarterback if he's awful and tone deaf and shows zero signs of progress. Ridder, I can attest, is none of those things.

He's self-aware, in command and unafraid of the moment. He also has arm strength, and his decisiveness will improve with experience and with better receiving targets. He's inaccurate at times, until he finds a rhythm. [And, Oscar Price, don't think I won't post or comment on critical questions. Regular readers can vouch for that. I just can't publish questions presuming outright falsehoods within the structure of the inquiry. Drake London's a possession receiver who can't create separation? Ridder can't hit a wide-open receiver? That's just ludicrous.]

Q: Is drafting a QB the correct option?

A: I think that's a separate issue. If you LOVE a quarterback atop this draft and think he can take you to new heights and stabilize the position for a decade or more, take him. If there isn't that dude, don't. I don't see much sense in adding another mid-round quarterback, though, unless you're sure Ridder doesn't have it. I think there's enough intriguing evidence that you want to see more.

But the Falcons will need to add a quarterback to this mix, based solely on numbers. That could be a veteran with starting experience to compete with Ridder or a veteran to help him who can start if things go awry. How much they spend could provide a glimpse into their confidence level in Ridder. But, make no mistake: you'll here about the Falcons researching quarterbacks all spring. As they should. Have to do your due diligence without a locked-in franchise quarterback.

Andy Wilkinson from Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Hi Scott, first time question. Do you think safety should be a top priority in free agency or the draft. It seems we got beat a lot on big plays deep where typically there would be a safety involved. I started focusing in on Richie Grant and saw a lot of missed pass plays and tackles.

Bair: I'm not so sure that safety would be a top priority for me personally. They'll need depth at the position to be sure, but I would consider safety way down on the priority list. There are pressing needs up front and at cornerback that require resources over safety.

Now on to your greater point about Richie Grant. He has not been perfect this season, and there are a few moments that he'd like to have back, namely last week and in the Cincinnati game. There's a game-sealing interception against Seattle that's a highlight, and I think he's in good position more often than not and makes good reads and pre-snap checks.

This is also his first full NFL year starting at safety and he'll continue to grow and get better. He can play deep safety and in the slot. He has two picks and five pass breakups, though those totals should probably be higher.

I think that, when you combine Grant's tools and potential, plus his partnership with Jaylinn Hawkins, and weigh them against other pressing needs, I would think safety wouldn't be atop the list.

Especially after this endorsement from head coach Arthur Smith.

"A lot of things come up like recognizing certain route combinations and a lot of that comes with reps and experience," Smith said Monday. "There's so much stuff that happens pre-snap now, things that you want to put on safeties. Those guys a lot of times—they're like quarterbacks back there. Certainly, a guy that I have a ton of respect for is Budda Baker, and the impact that he has on that defense.

"When you watch the film, you can tell the guys that are the quarterbacks out there. You can hear them certainly on the sidelines but when you are watching the film, guys that look like—they're the calling presence. They are getting it and they're smart as hell. Like veteran quarterbacks, they're not manipulating them like they do some of the other guys. There are some things in Richie that I've seen a lot of in year two growth. Him making plays on the ball, how physical he is at the line of scrimmage, a lot of that stuff. I've been pleased with his growth as well."

Michael Catrone from Woodstock, Ga.

Hey, Scott! Thanks for all your great coverage of the team! With the Raiders benching Derek Carr and signaling they are going to move on potentially, do you see the Falcons as a destination? Carr is a consistent 4000-yard, 20-30 TD guy, and all reports are he's a good dude. I know he has a no-trade clause, but I think we would absolutely have to check in on his availability, right? (Also depending also on how Ridder does the last 2 games). Thanks!

Bair: You've got to kick the tires, at least. For a bit of background, I know Derek pretty well. I covered him as a Raider from 2014-2020 and saw every snap he took during that span. He's an accurate, decisive quarterback who can make big plays and has a track record of fourth-quarter comebacks. He has had some missteps recently and can try to execute exactly as the play's designed over being creative.

He is, as you point out, respected in the locker room and a good dude. His contract isn't cheap but it isn't daunting by quarterback standards and he could absolutely run Arthur Smith's offense. Not sure if he's an ideal fit, though he is mobile, but Smith can adjust it to his quarterback's strengths.

What would it take to get Carr? Not sure. I wouldn't go nuts over compensation. And, considering he has a no-trade clause, you might have to rework his deal to get the deal done. What would that cost? Or could you gamble and wait to see if the Raiders outright release him? If that's the case, I'm definitely putting in a bid. I can also admit that I'm a bit bias because I know, like and respect Derek a great deal.

Barry Wynn from Rex, Ga.

There is concern among the fans if Tannehill is released then the Falcons might scoop him up. If that happened, then Tannehill would have replaced Mariota again. Personally, Ridder would be preferable. But, if Tannehill leaves Nashville, may he be here next season?

Bair: You phrased that in an interesting way, Barry. Doesn't sound like you want Ryan Tannehill here. The Arthur Smith connection is super strong so the link will always be there, especially if the Titans move on. There's $18 million in dead money associated with his release and it doesn't seem like Malik Willis is ready to take over in Tennessee, at least from the outside and a distance removed, so maybe Tannehill returns. You've got to be cautious about any injury, especially if he doesn't play again this season.

But he worked extremely well with Smith, who was involved in a good decision to give him the starting gig. Tannehill will be 35 next year and could be a bridge to Ridder if you like the Cincinnati product but think he needs more time to develop. And, as always, trade compensation plays a huge role here, considering how valuable draft capital is to the Falcons.

The guys put in the work in Flowery Branch to prepare for this week's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

1125 x 663 (MKT TIle) (2x)

Swaggin' Since 1966

Takin' it back to 1966! Shop the Red Helmet Collection today online or in-store at Atlantic Station.

Related Content