The Falcons loss to Tampa Bay was three sleeps ago now. We're moving on to the New York Giants. The Sunday contest at MetLife Stadium opens a window of three consecutive games against relatively vulnerable opponents.
Can they make hay against them? Given where the Falcons sit, at 0-2 following consecutive lopsided losses, they should home in on the Giants before thinking beyond that.
That's what we'll focus on in this Wednesday edition of Bair Mail, now delivered by FedEx. How perfect a partnership is that? We're thrilled to have them aboard.
Now, on to your questions:
Chris Atlas from Marrieta, Ga.
Hey Bair. I know another tough loss, especially after climbing back into it they way we did. I'm actually more impressed with improvements that were made between games 1 & 2. It seemed like momentum was shifting in our favor and then when A.J. Terrell got hurt Tampa retook control. What are your thoughts?
Bair: I think it's more correlation than causation here. The Falcons scored again after A.J. Terrell was lost, so it's hard to say the injury was a huge letdown. Even in the fourth quarter, the pick sixes hurt more than everything.
I would agree, however, that losing Terrell was a big blow. He had a great game before getting concussed, pitching a shutout with zero catches on three targets, with two acrobatic, touchdown-saving pass breakups.
He was doing all that against Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, showing the skill we saw all offseason while writing Terrell had made a big leap this offseason.
We still don't know if Terrell will be available Sunday against the Giants, though going from Terrell to T.J. Green or having Isaiah Oliver move outside is a big step down. The Falcons don't have much depth at that spot. They need him back fast, but you can't/shouldn't rush concussions. The secondary will have to hold it down for as long as Terrell's on the sideline.
Rob Johnson from Houston, Texas
First, Kris hit on something in the Final Whistle podcast I noticed in game one as well. Ryan's body language has been really bad at points of both games. While he is carrying a lot of pressure with the poor OL play, new offense and vocal fan criticism, he cannot let his disappointment and frustration show. How can he and the coaching staff redirect those feelings into focused resolve to motivate his teammates?
Second, while the shanked punt was a key turning point, the issues started when Williams didn't field the TB punt near the goal line despite having space to make a return. I assume that was coached. When you have a dynamic returner, why not let him return it?
Bair: Thanks for the question, Rob. And for listening to the Final Whistle podcast. That was a smart move on your part. I, too, thought Kris picked up on Ryan's body language as an interesting point, but I couldn't blame the quarterback. You should see how I look when Bojangles is out of biscuits (again). Can't imagine how I'd look if I blew an upset bid in the fourth quarter. I think Ryan can be forgiven for showing some emotion. Even Matty Ice gets heated sometimes.
Second, that punt-return decision is coached. Not supposed to return it from inside the 10. Better chance at a touchback than a long return. While Williams did the right thing there, that sequence underscores the value of good punting. Tampa Bay's Bradley Pinion have a 44.5-yard net average and two attempts inside the 20. Cam Nizialek, by contrast, at a 34.3-yard net average, one inside the 20 and a touchback. The punt game played a huge part in the ultimate outcome. The Falcons must get better in that area, which is why Dustin Colquitt was signed to the practice squad for serious competition.
Michael S. from Calgary
Kind of a long(er) term question but also a curiosity - Do you think a franchise accumulating a lot of losses leads to players on expiring contracts wanting out? I look at a Ridley who has one year left but has been on some poor performing teams, eventually those losses have to weigh heavily on a competitive person I would think?
Bair: Interesting question, Michael, one that requires some deep thoughts. First off, you're right. Nobody likes to lose. Not even the millionaires. Especially not them, because competitive drive is partly how they got rich. It might influence some free agent decisions, but money talks, man. Wouldn't it in your line of work? Certainly does in mine. If all things are equal, a longer-term path to sustained success might influence decision. So might comfort with a coaching staff, scheme or home city. Lots of variables at play here.
But, to your point, there are several impending free agents the Falcons should work to re-sign, including Foye Oluokun and Russell Gage. They also have some veterans on one-year deals they could want back. They need cap space and for those guys to have enjoyed the last season's experience with a drive to come back.
Call for questions
Well, that's another Bair Mail in the books. We've got another coming up Friday that will set you up for Sunday's game against the Giants. Submit your questions about that game and what it'll take to win right here.