The Falcons play the Jets this week, in London. They're doing so EARLY on Sunday, with a 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff.
That's insane. I covered West Coast teams before this season, and they hated games that kickoff at 10 a.m. Pacific. People should not be playing such a physical game so soon after waking up. Messes with the body clock. Doesn't produce great products.
Starting a half hour earlier is even worse. Coaches will say it's the same for everybody and good teams adapt. All that's true. No excuses for playing poorly in a winnable game.
Still, not ideal. And odd, considering it falls outside the NFL's typical TV windows.
But that's the situation Arthur Smith's Falcons have, and they'll have to go play well against a Jets team that had looked horrible until last week's upset win over Tennessee.
The Falcons have to look inward and fix some things during this practice week to insure they do better than they did against Washington.
Let's get into all that a more in Wednesday morning's Bair Mail.
Charlie C from Boulder, Colo.
Scott, it's great to see that Arthur smith has found an offensive weapon in [Cordarrelle Patterson], but don't you think that Calvin Ridley and all our other wide receivers need to take responsibility and be more accountable for their lack of production from the falcons wide receivers group? Does terry Fontenot need to search the free agent pool for more production or is this something that Arthur smith can scheme up to correct?
Bair: I don't think it's an issue of accountability, Charlie, but I agree the Falcons need more from their receiver corps. That includes Calvin Ridley, who let some golden opportunities pass against Washington. Matt Ryan was taking consistent deep shots, with Ridley generally unable to survive the ground. Those were tough catches, but he's a star and elite talent. You’re supposed to make most of those plays. They could've been game changers.
"We expect more," Smith said, "and Calvin knows that. I'm not telling you anything I don't tell the players. He's one of our top guys, right? He's one of our captains. Nobody has higher expectations than what he does for himself. It's why I call his number. I believe in Calvin, but like all of us, we can all be better."
Preston Krah from Arlington, Va.
Hey Bair! Thank you for what you do for us Falcons fans! I've got two questions for you today.
1) With the situation we have at CB right now and with Oliver going to IR, what is the likelihood the Falcons pursue the recently cut Gilmore? We are in desperate need of secondary help and he could provide some veteran presence we severely need.
2) I recently heard someone compare Pitts with the likes of Jeremy Shockey and that the Falcons coaching staff should use him in a similar manner. How do you feel about that comparison? Thanks again for all you do and keep up the great work! Rise Up!!
Bair: Glad you brought Stephon Gilmore up, Preston. Let's clear the air, and maybe rain on a parade or two.
Answer 1: The star cornerback was just released by the Patriots as he's getting healthy and eligible to return off the physically unable to perform list while rehabbing a quad injury. This release, per NFL Network, has a lot to do with money. Gilmore isn't going to come cheap, nor should he, and ESPN says the market for him will be “robust.”
That knocks the Falcons out. Of course they'd be interested in such an elite talent. Who wouldn't? They can't afford him on an open and competitive market. Gilmore isn't taking a one-year prove-it deal here and, even if Gilmore's a rental option, that would be for a title contender. The Falcons aren't in that space right now, sitting at 1-3. They're handcuffed by salary cap issues that must be worked out. It's nice for fans to dream about getting such a big-time player, it's impossible to see that becoming reality.
Kennis Ellis from Helena, Ark.
Trenches, trenches, trenches. It is my opinion the Falcons lost the Washington game in the 4th quarter due to both line performance. Offensive line did not protect Ryan enough or provided better running lanes. Defensive line failed to bring Heinicke down (got to him but not down).
Bair: You nailed it, nailed it, nailed it, Kennis. The Falcons have to get better up front. That's why, when everyone was screaming about play calling in that ill-fated fourth-quarter offensive sequence against Washington, I was screaming about execution. The play calls were fine. The execution was not. The whole rushing operation hasn't been good enough to this point. The pass rush is virtually non-existent if Grady Jarrett and/or Dante Fowler aren't creating pressure. The coaching staff must continue developing those players to get better returns as we move through the season. There's faith that will happen as the talent gets more comfortable with what they're asked to do in the scheme.
Chuck Gay from Ringold, Ga.
Do you think Mykal Walker can improve enough to take over for Deion next season? Trading Deion could get us multiple picks in the draft as well as give us some cap room. I think Grady and Matt are too indispensable next year.
Bair: Two things, Chuck. The first: Deion Jones isn't going anywhere. The Falcons reportedly restructured his deal recently, pushing some money deeper into his deal. There would be a significant dead money hit if they moved on from him next year.
The second: The Falcons could see if Mykal Walker can replace impending free agent Foye Oluokun, though I'd personally want to keep him and Jones together. Generally speaking Walker is a good player with a bright future. He just plays a position with two three-down fixtures. Tough to find snaps for him.