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Bair Mail: On Arthur Smith, what happened in the WFT loss and rebounding well

This Monday mailbag is part therapy session after losing late lead to Washington


I tried something new this week, adding a call for mailbag questions to a story posted right after Sunday's final whistle.

Asked for comments, questions and concerns after a 34-30 loss to Washington Football Team where the Falcons blew a late lead.

Y'all had a few. 57 to be exact.

Your frustration was clear in one letter after another. It wasn't the loss. It was the way it was lost that seems so troubling to you. It hit a little too close to home, a little too close to what you all experienced in recent seasons.


It seems only right to make this Bair Mail a chance for fans to vent, for their voices to be amplified just a little bit. So, here we go. Let's talk:

Tara Jackson from Atlanta

Just whhhyyyyy? 😢😢😢😢😢😢

Bair: That's the pervading theme here. How did the Falcons end up with another loss like this? Because Rome wasn't built in a day. This team is learning how to win, learning how to operate under Arthur Smith. This process is going to take time. It's going to go slower than most might like, and progress with come in small steps.

It'd be far easier to see with time lapse photography, but that's not how you experience NFL football. You feel it every week. That's why it's such a great game. That's why it's so painful sometimes when your team struggles. You want a reason to hope better is on the way. I truly believe it is, even if it's hard to see after a loss like that.

Jeff C from Greenboro, N.C.

Looks like the Falcons found time machine and went back one season. New staff and a lot of new players but the same old Falcons.

Bair: This was the most popular, pervading sentiment in the mailbag. The sense of 'here we go again' was strong after that Washington loss. I wrote about that Sunday night, and why the sky is not falling.

I don't think that these are the same old Falcons, despite what happened on Sunday. We can't make that declaration, just like we couldn't say all was right with the world following the Giants. We need to see more, over a longer stretch, before handing out letter grades or playing in absolutes.

Ernie Aldaco from Flowery Branch, Ga.

I am a die-hard fan and support my team but losing at home is getting old. I have season tickets and it is upsetting to have the fans just laugh in your face in these games! It looked like a win and found a way to lose! I am disappointed and do not want to lose my optimism. Anyway, my question is, why did the defense do so bad against Washington and why did the pass rush not get to their quarterback? This was mind boggling to me, he had literally all day to throw!!

Bair: "I am disappointed and do not want to lose my optimism." Well said, Ernie. And you represent a lot of fans after Sunday's experience. I agree that the defense wasn't good enough, didn't get home enough in the pass rush – it seems to be Dante Fowler, Grady Jarrett or bust rushing the quarterback these days – and didn't get a takeaway despite several opportunities to do so.

I have zero problem with scheme. I have zero problem with play calling. I do think the Falcons need significant talent upgrades on defense they can't make right now, so it might be time to shake things up off the edge and in the defensive backfield.

JC Daniel from Savannah, Ga.

You could see this train wreck coming all week. Washington is a solid team. Our offense is gaining, but what gives with the defense and our not so special teams? Can we do something this franchise has never done and rebound? Thoughts?

Bair: I don't see any reason why not. People don't want to hear that right now though. This loss is too fresh. There's a great opportunity to rebound against the Jets, even though that game is in England. Rebounding is an essential trait of teams in the right mindset, heading (even slowly) in the right direction. This is where coaching and leadership comes into play, just as it did after the Eagles loss.

I think the Falcons have the right people in place to rebound well.

Jakob Bauer from Hove, England

Hey Bair, not gonna lie this loss was tough to take. And while you could point at missed opportunities on defense, I just don't get the play calling on the 3 and out. In your your gut reaction you wrote "these type of losses will upset head coach Arthur Smith [...] about an opportunity missed." And yes, I get that running the ball SHOULD be what you're doing to ice the game. But the run game was... underwhelming all game again. Give Ryan, whose been shouldering the team through another impressive drop performance, 3 tries at completions and first downs. I blame Smith for this one.

Bair: That's a rational take, Jakob. I didn't take issue with the play calling there. Execution was at issue here. Could you imagine the reaction if the Falcons threw three times and then punted, with no time taken off the clock? Fans would've lost their minds. I'm not sure I agree this one's on Smith.

The Falcons had so many opportunities to close this game out. Defensive backs could’ve made several interceptions. Calvin Ridley and the receivers were dropped too many deep shots. This should've been a Falcons win. It shouldn't have been close at the end. The inability to capitalize on opportunities cost them here.

Michael S. from Calgary

Well... 1-3 on the easy part of the schedule, this team is beyond frustrating to watch and on pace to once again be irrelevant by Halloween. Without saying a number you had said you'd take the over on Falcons wins this year (7.5), would you still say that?

Bair: That's the problem with predictions. They live forever, and often end up on freezing cold takes. Ha. I am going to stick with it, yes. I think these Falcons will still get there, despite the fact I had Philadelphia and Washington included in my original win total. Can't back down from a prediction at the first sign of resistance. Stick to your stance, even if you go down with the ship.

Call for questions

Thanks for all the questions and comments after the game. I appreciate them all, whether you agree with me or not. Let's keep the high volume going with more questions looking for answers in Wednesday's edition of Bair Mail. Submit them right here.

Get a roof top view of the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Washington Football Team from the top of Mercedes-Benz Stadium during Week 4 of 2021.


Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast

Break down the hottest topics surrounding the Atlanta Falcons and how they can impact the team's success with Falcons Insiders Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney and Terrin Waack. Like and subscribe to join us for the lively debate on Falcons Final Whistle.

Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.

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