Hello all. We've reached Wednesday, meaning it's time for your regularly scheduled Bair Mail delivery.
We talk Falcons football past, present and future in this space, but it's a bit harder to do considering what happened on Monday night. All of our thoughts and prayers have been with Damar Hamlin since then, and they'll continue to be as we move forward.
- Date, kickoff time set for Falcons Week 18 game vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Bair Mail: On Cordarrelle Patterson's impact, Arthur Smith's flexible scheme
- How Isaiah Oliver has grown, developed and thrived in Dean Pees' system
- Inside Tori's Notebook: What you should take from the Falcons win vs. Arizona Cardinals
We also encourage those so inclined to donate to his charitable fund right here and to keep his family in your hearts.
There's no easy transition from that to this more standard football talk, but we'll make it while acknowledging the people are more important than the game.
Best wishes to Hamlin and those close to him.
But, as of Wednesday (Jan. 4), Week 18 is still scheduled to be played this weekend. That could change, but for now we'll be previewing the game against the Buccaneers as if it will go on as scheduled. Now on to your questions:
Zackery Goodknight from Dallas, Tex.
This off-season is going to be critical and exciting. I can't imagine the pressure the front office is under to get it right. How do you assess the most important position (QB) with only 4 games? What happens if Derek Carr or Lamar Jackson become options? If you stick with Ridder, do you try to get him more help at WR? But besides offense entirely, there's plenty to do on defense as well! Atlanta has a solid base of young talent. As a fan and an insider for the team we love, can you give us a quick, purely opinionated, guess of how you see the off-season signing/draft going? Where Atlanta focuses? Who you feel is the QB for next season? Does London get another big WR or speedy WR opposite of him? Just free-range your thoughts please! Thanks Bair!
Bair: There's a lot there, Zackery, but I like the concept of adding to the receiver room so I'm going to riff on that. Let's start with Drake London. He's going to be a legit No. 1 receiver. I don't think that's a bold prediction or hot take, either. He has the talent and drive to be a top-tier receiver.
While the fumbling concern is valid, I don't consider it a long-term issue. He's going to get that fixed. Take that to the bank. Also, Kyle Pitts is expected to make a full recovery from knee surgery and will be a major factor in the passing game. Cordarrelle Patterson should be back in 2023 and should be more present as a receiver with Tyler Allgeier in as a three-down back.
To your point, the Falcons still need more at receiver. Adding a speed element is key. I think a veteran presence will help as well. A young, fast receiver from the middle rounds of the NFL draft sounds ideal, and a free-agent add probably wouldn’t hurt. Jarvis Landry sounds like a solid add. Maybe JuJu Smith-Schuster or Marvin Jones?
This Falcons can be pretty scary if the passing game improves and balances out the attack. They need more firepower to do that, and I think it's possible without devoting premium resources to it better used on improving the defensive front.
Kerry Miller from Centerville, Ga.
Scott, As we, the fans, start looking toward next season I would really like to see Atlanta give Ridder a chance at the starting job next year. While I am not sure if he is the future or not, I think he has potential. I would like to see them bring in a veteran that could be a back but push Ridder. Guys like Baker Mayfield, Teddy Bridgewater, Colt McCoy or at the right price maybe a Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky all come to mind. Then I think they can draft and go after free agents where it is really needed which is the DL and edge rushers. How feasible do you think that would be?
Bair: I'm not an oddsmaker, but I would consider your scenario among the most likely paths forward this offseason. Head coach Arthur Smith likes Desmond Ridder's talent. He likes working with him. And I think we've seen enough good things from the third-round rookie to want to see more next spring and summer and fall. As we've mentioned time and again in this space, the Falcons need numbers in the quarterback room. Odds are great Marcus Mariota won't return and the Falcons need another quarterback, maybe two.
Adding a veteran with starting experience seems essential. How much the Falcons spend to acquire one will be telling. Will they go the Derek Carr/Ryan Tannehill route, aiming for someone who will expect to start? Will they shoot for the moon and try to trade for Lamar Jackson? Or will they go with your suggestion, Kerry, and get a Teddy Bridgewater type who can start but would be comfortable in a backup role supporting role? That will be telling to be sure.
Sharon Osler from Whitefish, Mont.
Not a question, just a comment! I don't know Troy Andersen but watched him play college ball for 4 years. His older sister was my grandson's roommate in PT school here in Montana. Great kids, great family. I'm just so disappointed that we rarely get any Falcon games. I follow his stats, read articles that has Troy's name in it, and am just proud that a Montana kid went in the second round and is now starting on defense. So if you speak to Troy, tell him Keaton's grandparents are true fans and wish him the best!
Bair: I just love this submission so much, Sharon. Troy is a good dude and a special talent, and it has been so cool seeing the entire state of Montana support him the way he has. In the podcast above, Troy mentions why he's so appreciative of how the community he grew up in has rallied around him.
Now on to Troy as a ball player. His promotion to the first unit was merit-based, well earned by showing greater mastery of the defensive scheme. That has allowed him to showcase his talent, especially raw speed exemplary for his size. He makes offensive coordinators account for him, and that's a good thing. He'll continue to grow and develop from here as a cover man and blitzer and, in my opinion, he's going to be a good NFL player for a long time.
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Friday's Bair Mail.
We take a monochrome look at the game against the Arizona Cardinals on January 1, 2023.