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Bair Mail: On Arthur Smith working with Marcus Mariota, Malik Willis and Feleipe Franks

We talk a lot about quarterbacks in this pass-happy mailbag


Our Monday installment of Bair Mail is hitting your inbox on a…Tuesday? This one was a bit delayed, but coming your way nonetheless. Appreciate your patience. And for all the good questions. There were a ton.


Most of them focused on Marcus Mariota, especially his pairing with head coach Arthur Smith. How will they work together. Can Smith get the most out of Mariota, as he has with others trying to establish themselves (see: Patterson, Cordarrelle).

Let's dive into that, other quarterback options, including some veterans and possible draft picks in this Monday (okay, Tuesday) Bair Mail:

Calvin Lum from Phoenix, Ariz.

HC Smith bench Mariota in 2019 and now he's playing for the HC who bench him. What does it say for Marcus as a person and HC Smith is it a special relationship for them both?

Bair: I'll let Arthur Smith explain this one himself, as he did in a press conference shortly after acquiring Mariota.

"I was a coordinator the last year when Marcus was there, and a lot of lessons learned. Marcus had some terrific runs with us in Tennessee," Smith said. "He obviously was a starter who won a playoff game with us in the 2017 season.

"He's at a different point of his career from where he was at then. I'm at a different point in my career. A lot of lessons learned and we're excited to work together again. He's an exciting player, a smart football player, and he's excited about the opportunity to get to Atlanta to prove himself."

Elliott Scoville from Gainesville, Ga.

Hi Scott, With their trade markets essentially drying up, I've been curious… what are the odds that the Falcons try to go after Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo for pennies on the dollar? I'm not saying that either of those is a great move but I wonder if that has come into consideration for the QB position long term.

Bair: I just can't see it, Elliott. If they're going to use draft capital on a quarterback, they'll make a pick of a college quarterback. I think they're comfortable going with Marcus Mariota this season, banking on good chemistry between him and head coach Arthur Smith.

They need every pick they can make, and I don't think going slightly older and established is the way to go. I covered Jimmy Garoppolo a bit in the Bay Area, and I think he has a low ceiling (but a high floor) and Baker Mayfield seems like someone you'd have to commit to beyond his fifth-year option. I wouldn't want to do that either. I would be ready to roll with Marcus Mariota in 2022, even if he's only a bridge to a new young passer.

Matt Merritt from Lowell, Ga.

Can Franks actually compete for the starting QB job?

Bair: Never say never, Matt, but I have a tough time seeing that happen. I would bet the Falcons bring in another quarterback, either a veteran or a draft pick, to be the primary No. 2. That allows Franks to try and earn a role as a gadget player, like he did last year.

Gregory C from Wisconsin

Hi , Don't have a question yet. Just wanted to comment on your take on Marcus Mariota. I agree with you completely. Been a fan since he joined the Titans. Lots I could say about those years. It's all in the past now. I am happy to see the effort the Falcons are making to improve the team and his chances for success. Can't wait for the season to start. And enjoy watching my new team. I think this team is going to surprise ( shock ) people. GO DIRTY BIRDS!

Bair: I always enjoy a rare comment where someone agrees with me! You must be one smart fella. I do believe Mariota will benefit from this experience and will be super motivated to establish himself as an NFL starter. This is best (and maybe last) shot to do so. I bet we see the best of him.

Score! Check out our top touchdowns of the 2021 season.

Krepton from Savannah, Ga.

I want to start this off by saying Matt Ryan has been our best franchise QB. Now that his era has come to an end. Would drafting an electric QB like Malik Willis bring a new atmosphere into the stadium? One that brings the fan base back to having true home field advantage again?

Bair: More than any individual, winning sells tickets. Putting a quality roster together will raise the quality of play and the entertainment value behind. That's the right long-term play to keep the stadium sold out. While a local guy like Malik Willis (Roswell HS) who is a great quote and an engaging personality will cause a ticket spike, that would be temporary if it's not followed by Ws. Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith will excite the fan base by building a consistent winner.

If they believe Willis is the guy to help accomplish that goal, then draft him. Don't do so for any other reason than that.

Call for questions

We've got a quick turnaround heading into our Wednesday Bair Mail, so submit your questions right here (and right now) to be included in the next mailbag.

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