This offseason I have written a handful of Bair Mails as Scott Bair works on other projects. I have come to the conclusion that the best part of this is getting to hear from all of you. Scott gets to interact with y'all way more than I do and I am quite jealous. However, the worst part of writing these Bair Mails is this dang preamble.
- Bair Mail: Which receivers make the 53-man roster?
- Arthur Smith explains why Falcons are stockpiling receivers
- 'Expectations are high for all of us': Lorenzo Carter on new-look Falcons edge rushers
- Finding the Falcons rookie class: Drake London, Arnold Ebiketie, Troy Andersen; Desmond Ridder; DeAngelo Malone
I never know how to start these things. If I keep writing them we're just going to have to start going straight into your questions. I think that would work best for everyone? Thoughts? Or Scott could read this and think to himself, 'Well, that's it. She's never writing a Bair Mail again.' Either way, I will stop rambling.
Bradley B. from San Diego
Hey Tori! Thanks for filling in for Scott this week. I read Bair Mail all the time so it's nice to keep it going! I really don't have any pressing questions but I am curious to know who you think has to make the biggest jump in their play from 2021 to 2022. Thanks for answering!
Here's the thing Bradley: You've asked a very simple question but one with an answer that's a lot more complex. It's complex because I have a list of players for you.
On offense, I'd like to see Jalen Mayfield and Kaleb McGary make the biggest jump in consistent play. I am also curious to see how Avery Williams looks at running back after he made the move to the offensive side of the ball this offseason.
On defense, I want to see Marlon Davison and Richie Grant take a step forward in their development. I think Grant is going to be in a better position this year than he was last year just by feeling more comfortable and knowledgable in the scheme. Meanwhile, Davidson has to stay healthy for an entire season. If he doesn't, you're looking at another former second round pick not panning out for the Falcons the way they originally wanted him to.
Jarvis B. from Macon, Ga.
Despite the many pundits, the job Terry and Arthur has done in the early stages of reconstructing this team is amazing. With the added talent to skill positions, how do you feel that affects Cordarrelle Patterson's role in the offense? Is he still the starting RB or do you feel that the Swiss Army knife takes a back seat to the additional talent being that he won't be called on to do everything as he did last year?
I really like this question Jarvis because I think you raise a few good points. Essentially, I think adding talent (and even a more mobile quarterback) around Patterson will only help him. The thing with Patterson is that he shouldn't have to be the work horse in the way he had to be last year. Of course, everyone loved seeing the production, but in order to keep Patterson at his best, others on the offense have to be more involved.
You saw Patterson's production towards the back half of the 2021 season dip a bit. We can infer that teams started picking up on how the Falcons were using Patterson, so it became more difficult for Atlanta to confuse opposing defenses with him.
With that being said, I actually think having so many different and versatile skill players around Patterson takes some of the pressure off of him that he had to carry last year. As good as Patterson was (and is), I don't want to overuse him to the point of becoming predictable. You asked if I thought the added talent will affect Patterson's role in the offense. My answer is yes. It should, but only for the better, in my opinion.
Jake S. from Gainesville, Ga.
Arthur and Dean have mentioned several times about not opening the playbook all the way yet. So my question is this... We got a lot of new players on our D this year. How many are coming from a 3-4? And how important is that?
Here's a little secret about the playbook: You hardly ever install an entire playbook in the span of a single season. That's actually something I talked about with Dean Pees recently. He's been coaching for almost 50 years now. That playbook is massive. You're never getting to 100 percent. But I digress...
To answer your actual question, I don't know the exact number of players coming from a 3-4 system but I can tell you this: It's not that important. Let's use Grady Jarrett as an example. When Pees came in and brought his scheme with him, there were many who didn't think Jarrett would fit it at all. He just doesn't have the build of a 3-4 interior lineman, or so people thought.
A year later, ask Pees how he feels about Jarrett and he'll tell you: That guy is a player he wants on his defense regardless of how much he does or doesn't fit the traditional mold of a 3-4 tackle.
And let's be honest, Pees has never rigidly stuck to the 3-4 front. If you're able to, come to a Falcons open practice when training camp gets here. I bet you'll see that defense lining up in a 3-4, 4-3, 4-2-5, etc. Jarrett could line up inside or Pees may swing him to the outside just to give the offense a weird look once. When it comes to defenses I tend to think the alignment of the front changes so often that it's not as important as some may think when finding players. Pees has said for a long time that he doesn't fit the player to the scheme. He fits the scheme to the player. If that's the case, a player coming from a true 3-4 front wouldn't matter all that much.
Call for questions
Scott will be back on Bair Mail starting Monday. Hopefully that isn't too disappointing after a pair of Tori Takeovers. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in that next edition.
The temperatures may be hot outside, but our team is cranking up the heat at practice this week as they wrap up OTAs.