The Falcons have one more off day before the reconvene to start practice prep for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears. Dealing with Justin Fields is a tall task, considering how well the Atlanta native has performed as a runner.
The Falcons run defense must be better than it fared in recent weeks heading into this one, or it could get away from the home team.
- 'You can make it about the quarterback, but what about the team?': Arthur Smith discusses Marcus Mariota's role in loss to Carolina
- Arthur Smith on Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder: 'There is no situation'
- Falcons release depth chart ahead of Week 11 game vs. Bears
- Inside Tori's Notebook: The Desmond Ridder ruckus and big swing in loss to Panthers
There's plenty of time to preview that contest, and we'll look inward at some Falcons issues in thus Tuesday edition of Bair Mail.
On to your questions:
Payton M from Smyrna, Ga.
It seems like we're getting some positive contributions from the 2022 draft class. Which guys have stood out to you?
Bair: Early returns on this year's draft class have been good, from the top pick in Drake London all the way down to fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier. Arnold Ebiketie has been good, Troy Andersen's working into the lineup and is a key special teams player and even DeAngelo Malone has had his moments.
We obviously haven't seen Desmond Ridder yet (more on him below), but that's another intriguing talent in a group of them. Getting benefits so early is a plus, and it'll be interesting to see how they develop.
London has been good. The guy doesn't have a drop yet and is as tough and competitive as they come. If he can stay healthy, I can envision 1,000-yard seasons becoming a regular occurrence.
While London has lived up to expectation, Allgeier has exceeded them. You can see improvement in how he runs, and the decisiveness of his choices as a runner and pass protector. He's looking more and more like the guy we saw on BYU highlight reels, and that's a good sign that he's trending in the right direction. He and Cordarrelle Patterson, plus Caleb Huntley, have formed a solid, effective trio that should stabilize the position group well into the future.
Ebiketie has lots of QB hits but needs to get home a bit faster to turn those efforts into sacks. He's on his way, though, and should be a quality, front-line player.
Win Ralston from Decatur, Ga.
Hi, A comment & then my question. My family and I are long-g time fans, meaning we've been thru more downs than ups thru the years. I thing Ridder is definitely going to bring some UP time for this team in the future and was thrilled the Falcons drafted him. That said, I do not think now is the time to play him. Mariota has not been completely responsible for our losses. Fans should be screaming at our GM and coaches to do something to fix the Offensive line which has been horrible in the pass protection department for several years. Therefore, Mariota is the better QB to play behind this O-Line and then play Ridder next year when (Hopefully)our Line will be much improved. I think playing him this season is not going to be a fair assessment of Ridder's talent. Your thoughts?
Bair: Once again, most of the mailbag questions were quarterback related, but I think Arthur Smith made it clear there's no quarterback change coming, no matter how much a faction of Falcons fans want it. That issue has been clarified, and I'm not going to litigate a hypothetical in this space.
I do think there's merit in a Ridder discussion, in terms of the best situation to put him in. I've said this before and I'll say it again, there's missing information in this evaluation. We have NO IDEA how Ridder is doing on the practice field or in the classroom. We haven't seen him work in a while. Only coaches and scouts know how he has progressed, how much work he's doing in the Falcons scheme – he also runs the scout team – in recent weeks. Maybe the coaches think he's ready. Maybe they don't. We're not privy to that information, and Smith has avoided a clear answer on Ridder to tamp down any talk of a QB controversy, of which the Falcons don't have one.
It's also important to note that you want to put Ridder in with a great chance to succeed. That probably means a planned start, not a relief appearance, with the practice reps leading up to it. It doesn't sound like that's coming any time soon, considering the Falcons are still pushing for a playoff spot. It's possible he plays at some point this season, especially if the Falcons fall out of realistic contention. We aren't there right now.
Smith has also said a few times that playing quarterback isn't all about stats. It's also about running the operation, something Mariota does well. Mariota needs to do better as a passer, but his smarts and running ability are real benefits for the offense as currently constructed. That can't be ignored when evaluating the quarterback situation.
Kerry Miller from Centerville, Ga.
Morning Falcons team. I want to thank your entire team for all the great writing and information on a daily basis. Injuries are just impacting the Falcons on both sides right now. I feel at times the team is just holding together. What do you think the odds are of picking up an OL until some of the injured players are able to return? I understand anyone they pick up at this stage will likely not be someone who could come in a start but added depth and help wouldn't hurt.
Bair: The Falcons are thin up front, aren't they, Kerry?? The team has lost interior linemen Elijah Wilkinson – that was a big blow when he went out with a knee injury – and Matt Hennessy to injured reserve, taking away a starter and some injury protection. Going out and getting a veteran off the street probably isn't in the cards. I could see the Falcons using their practice squad as a proving ground that could support the front five. They're solid at tackle and center, but another guard could help out. They also cross train most linemen, so they can swing to several spots in reserve.
Call for questions
We take a monochrome look at the game against the Carolina Panthers on November 10, 2022.