It was early Wednesday morning when this mailbag formally reached cyberspace, meaning it's officially time to turn the page. We've analyzed the heck out of a Week 3 loss in Detroit that doubles as the Falcons first loss of the season, from what went wrong to what needs to get fixed.
Now it's time to move forward and look toward Sunday's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That doesn't mean we won't address issues needing improvement, which is why this mailbag has a decidedly offensive slant.
We'll focus on the skill players here, with more quarterback-focused discussion in a Friday mailbag. I've seen all of your questions about Desmond Ridder, but I wanted to wait until Ridder's Wednesday afternoon press conference to address them after hearing from QB1 himself.
So let's get to your questions – there were so many of them this week; thank you!! – in this Wednesday edition of Bair Mail.
J.C. Daniel from Savannah, Georgia
Scott, is Kyle Pitts ok? Even the commentators noticed he seemed to have a "hitch in the giddy up." With the Braves, Acuna seems faster this year than last year coming back from ACL. Is Pitts at 100%? It is easy to be critical after a loss, but it just seems Pitts could be Ridder's best friend and primary receiver with 10 yard quick slants over the middle and quick dart outs to the flats, but we have these slow developing plays and a lot of east/west plays both running and passing instead of north/south plays.
Bair: I got several questions just like this one, so I'm hoping my response to J.C. will address all of them.
Kyle Pitts hasn't appeared on an injury report since they started being issued in Week 1, and he was a regular in training camp even with an individualized ramp-up plan to help him return from a knee injury relatively late in the 2022 season. It is fair to say that it often takes time for explosiveness and burst to return after an injury like that, but I think he has been open quite a bit in the early going and has been in position to make more plays than he has made.
I went back and looked at some of his targets in the Lions loss and there were a few in particular where "hitch in the giddy-up" seems an appropriate descriptor. He could've just stumbled or had trouble with the turf. I wouldn't chalk it up to anything more than that at this stage. Why? Per NFL NextGen Stats, only a few ran faster than Pitts on Sunday. He hit almost 20 miles per hour in that game, proving he can still move pretty well. Whether he's 100 percent or not is an unknown – there's no way he'd tell you if he wasn't – but he has still been productive.
Smith was asked about this during his Monday press conference. Here's his answer.
"I think Kyle is one of the most deceptively fast guys you'll ever watch run," Smith said. "You can micro-manage that – our mentality is we can all do better. If you get an opportunity – I think sometimes when you watch Kyle, he's deceptively fast. It's just the way he runs. It's what makes him kind of unique."
Overall, Pitts has nine receptions for 100 yards on 17 targets to this point. I believe his production will go up as he and Ridder find greater sync. I do think, though, that Pitts is so talented working in the middle of the field and deep down the sideline that he can be trusted to just go make a play even if he's covered. He's too talented to not make a profound impact in the passing game.
Carlton Stevens from Ellenwood, Georgia
The Falcons are known for running the football. Now why aren't the Falcons using Allgeier more to soften up the Defense? Bijan will be good, but I think they are not using Allgeier, who is a force in the running game enough. When will Patterson be ready?
Bair: The Falcons have a good problem in their backfield, with two deserving rushers available. Bijan Robinson is electric and a tough guy to take off the field. Tyler Allgeier is elusive in his own way and deserves his touches. He only had 9 against Detroit, with just seven carries. That isn't enough, but the run game wasn't working a ton and Robinson's the obvious backfield option in passing situations. Allgeier had a strong Week 1 and a so-so Week 2, but his physicality is always welcome and will be key for the Falcons moving forward.
Regarding Cordarrelle Patterson's readiness, I'll let Arthur Smith answer that one.
"Every athlete is different," Smith said in his Monday press conference. "You have to listen to them and the doctors. That's the thing. So, we'll have to see how this week goes, but it's not like – nobody feels like gloom and doom there."
Scott Moore from Boise, Idaho
I believe the Lions are legit especially at home coming off a loss and they exposed the Falcons by stacking the box and playing man to man on our receivers. Do you believe this will be the strategy against us going forward? If so how should the Falcons attack that defense?
Bair: The NFL is nothing if not a copycat league. Opponents will certainly examine this Lions tape for ways to slow the Falcons down and try to emulate those things. The Falcons should expect that and be able to counter.
Two things about that strategy: 1. That Lions defensive front is really good and did an excellent job in run defense on the interior and setting an edge outside. 2. Many have tried to slow the Falcons run game, but few have succeeded even when they know a run's on the way.
The Falcons will surely see teams who sell out to stop the run, and it's up to Arthur Smith, Desmond Ridder and the passing attack to make defenses pay for it. Can they do that? That's an unknown at this stage, but there's enough talent in the passing game to do so.
George Bond from Norfolk, Virginia
How come we do not have a dangerous receiver with speed?
Bair: The Falcons do have dangerous receivers, some with speed. As we've established, Kyle Pitts is deceptively quick. Scotty Miller has sprinter's speed but really hasn't been targeted much, even in an attempt to take the top off the defense in a one-on-one matchup. He has played just 28 snaps in three games but doesn't have a target, especially with more favorable options as blockers or pass catchers taking up most of the receiver spots.
The Falcons do have deep threats, in Pitts and Drake London, who are down-the-field options. London, a USC product, may not be considered a burner, but he can out-leverage defensive backs and made contested catches in traffic. We've also seen Mack Hollins go up and get one as well. I don't think the team's receiving options are a great issue. If protection gets shored up and the ball gets delivered well, the Falcons can go yard.
Call for questions
We've got another mailbag coming later this week. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in the next edition of Bair Mail.
Take a monochrome look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions during Week 3.