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Bair Mail: On Arthur Smith adaptability, Cordarrelle Patterson and Matt Ryan

Hope you had a good bye week.

You probably checked some items off the honey-do list, then got out and saw the sun. Being glued to NFL Red Zone can be tan prohibitive.

Trust me, I know. Spent my Sunday indoors, save the leaves I paid my son $2 dollars to help me rake. Had to ante up. Good help is hard to find.

Falcons fans who stayed glued to the couch all day, however, probably liked what they saw.


The Dolphins are really struggling, even with Tua back in action. The Panthers look super beatable.

That soft spot in the schedule, including the Giants, Washington and the Jets, may have expanded a bit. Can the Falcons take advantage of it? We'll know soon enough.

Let's examine that possibility and other prospects you'd like to discuss in Monday's Bair Mail:

Charlie C. from Boudler, Colo.

Scott, when Arthur Smith had his introductory press conference, he said that he and his coaching staff would be smart, hardest working, flexible, and adaptable, and that was very evident after the Falcons game in London, with Smith making adjustments after the loss to the Washington football team, and my question is regarding [Cordarrelle Patterson], do you think that the way Arthur is using him in the offense, is it by design or need? Due to the lack of production from our wide receivers & multiple dropped passes?

Bair: There's a ton to unpack here, Charlie. First off, Smith has practiced what he preached, proving himself smart, hard-working, flexible and adaptable. Those are good traits of a good head coach. If you haven't caught on, I like the guy. It's a genuine sentiment. And we aren't even super tight. With COVID, there isn't much time for banter.

Art's just a respectable human, somebody who you could have a beer with, somebody who will give you grief and respect a returned volley. That's a big deal to me. So was his "there are no victims here," speech. Tori McElhaney wrote an excellent column about its uniqueness, and I think that mindset will keep this team on the right track. I may be wrong, but I don't think I am.

Second, Smith has unlocked Cordarrelle Patterson's offensive potential, maybe for the first time. More than one scout in Minnesota thought he was worth a first-round pick, yet he has never proved a scary skill player. He might be Hall-of-Fame worthy for his special teams work, someone who didn't warrant steady offensive touches.

Smith has found a unique role for Patterson that has him thriving. Let's be honest here. Cordarrelle has been awesome. It isn't a stretch to say he'll continue to be if given the opportunity. They're going to him because he's a deserving target and for no other reason.

Barry Wynn from Rex, Ga.

Before everyone gets carried away with two wins, let's tap the brakes here. The victories were over the Jets and the Giants not the Bucs or the Rams. The Jets are a perennial loser and we lost to the Eagles. Don't get carried away until you have more of a sample. I agree Ryan is not the problem but the lack of talent on the defensive line and the youth of the team could it mean Ryan is being wasted on a bad team?

Bair: The Falcons will be tested against the somewhat elevated competition coming up on the schedule. This next stretch, against the Dolphins (they're struggling), Panthers (they're just okay) and Saints (they're decent) will tell us a lot.

The Falcons are trying to do the hard thing and not go through a full-scale rebuild. Instead they're trying to win and develop. That's hard. They do, to your point, need to spend draft capital on the lines, offense and especially defense, to make this regime's vision work.

Keeping Ryan as the quarterback was the right move. He wants to be here, so time isn't wasted. It's good for the Falcons, too, so they can wait and take the young quarterback they fall in love with without pressure to do so at an exact moment.

Clifford Inlow from Albany, Ga.

What about the punter? Is he injured or did he just take some time out?

Bair: Cameron Nizialek is on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, meaning he'll have to miss at least three games. Dustin Colquitt is the guy now, taking over punting responsibilities against the Jets. The 39-year old had one punt he'd like to have back, but pinned the Jets at their own 10-yard line with the other. Colquitt has a track record of success that should help the Falcons on special teams as the season progress.

Call for questions

Let's get another mailbag going! Submit your questions right here to the Bair Mail bag.

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