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Bair Mail: On expectations adjustments, buying Matt Ryan time, how to increase Falcons pass rush

We answer your questions about what went wrong vs. Philadelphia in Monday's mailbag


The mailbag was moderately full heading into the Falcons season opener. It was stuffed to capacity following Sunday’s 32-6 loss to Philadelphia, with a sentiment unifying the submissions.

You all aren't thrilled.

There are other words that describe your feelings better, but they're not suitable for Bair Mail. This is a family friendly mailbag, after all.


It's also a safe space where you can vent and ask questions about what you saw and what needs to happen in the future.

Let's not mess around here. Doubt anyone's in the mood for fluff, so we'll get right to it in Monday's Bair Mail:

Doke Yawn from Pooler, Ga.

Wow! This one was ugly....worse than expected after some promise to start....very little positive except perhaps the running game early on....the O-line got exposed more as the game wore on....the D got some pressure but Hurts mostly able to escape & make, should expectations now be lowered? It's early, things might improve, but 5 or 6 wins looks like the ceiling at best!

Bair: Should the ceiling be lowered, Doke? I don't think so. I never put a win total out there but said that, with the over-under set at seven wins, I'd take the over. I still will. That wasn't a great showing, but all is not lost. Not even close. This team has too much talent on offense especially, to struggle mightily all season.

Kerry Miller from Centerville, Ga.

Bair, I am not one to have a knee jerk reaction to one game, especially the first game. I know that the Falcons have work to do to get competitive. I have two areas from yesterday's game that concerned me. The first was being unable to keep Hurts in the pocket and account for his running. We know that's his strong suit. Second, was penalties on offense. Did not playing in preseason compound this? Your thoughts?

Bair: I don't think preseason snaps had anything to do with this. I don't think you carry momentum from any action over two weeks away from the game field, and I don't think the Falcons would've been better Sunday with a different strategy for the exhibition season. They got through it essentially healthy, with all due respect to Jaeden Graham and Josh Andrews. Preserving health is all that matters. I'll go down with the ship on that one.

Jerry B from Hinesville, Ga.

Hey Scott, tough loss on Sunday. I know coach Smith took the blame, but it's not totally his fault. Fact is, we're just not a very good football team right now. There were two positive things out of the loss. Our running game improved. We still don't have a pass rush or a pass protection. I didn't see any sense of urgency when we fell behind. I was player with the hear we go again faces and some seemed to give up. There was no leadership on display either. The other good news is…… it's only Week 1.

Bair: There wasn't a question in there, Jerry, but I figured I'd let you vent. It's good for the soul. Ha. I did want to discuss one of your points about pass rush and pass protection. More than anything else, Sunday's game was lost in the trenches. Matt Ryan had no time to work. Jalen Hurts had just enough to either make a good throw or escape the pocket and run. If you can protect on offense and disrupt defensive, you're going to have a tough time.

JC Daniel from Savannah, Ga.

Scott, I will give you credit for not sugar coating your views on our team. I almost wrote in Friday as i had no idea we picked up Patterson to go with Davis, but I didn't want to jinx the season opener. Wow. Any guarded optimism for 2021 ended when we went 0-2 in the red zone in the first quarter of the first game AT HOME. To ice it, our coach showed no confidence in Ryan before the half, so we handed the ball back to the opponent and gave up a last second score to seal the deal. DQ would have been proud. We are paper thin everywhere and cash strapped as we pay for blown draft picks and TD and DQ financially rewarding a select few. Our coach didn't seem too pleased with Ryan. If this is the deal and we start 1-4 or 0-5, do we go with Rosen to find some glimmer of hope?

Bair: The Falcons have been Ryan's team for 13 years. They will be again in Year 14. That's an appropriate choice that has nothing to do with his track record. Ryan is the best quarterback on this roster, one of the top 10-12 on this planet. It doesn't matter who is working from the pocket if he doesn't have time to work. Ryan was under constant pressure from the second quarter on, once the run game slowed. The interior line struggled and simply must be better for Ryan to stand a chance. Everyone wants to know why Ryan didn't throw downfield more on Sunday. He didn't have any time. Plain and simple.

You also bring up a good point that the Falcons were handcuffed by the salary cap, some poorly structured contracts and some recent draft misses by those before them. That's why the Falcons have to run a clean game and minimize mistakes to stay competitive.

Call for questions

Monday's Bair Mail is for venting about a recent result, but the 24-hour rule's in effect here. We're going to move forward during Wednesday's edition and discuss what needs to get fixed before playing Tampa Bay in Week 2. Submit your questions right here.

Oh, and subscribe to the Falcons Final Whistle Podcast on iTunes and Spotfiy. It's a brand-new pod featuring me, Tori McElhaney and Kris Rhim, where we break down each game right after it happened and put it in a proper context. Rate, review and tell your friends. You'll get quality, candid Falcons talk coming to you after every game.

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles during Week 1 of 2021.


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