The Falcons won another dramatic affair, this time a 20-16 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at…Mercedes-Benz Stadium!!! The Falcons got their first hometown win of the season moved within a game of the .500 mark and continued their quality play in close games.
After that win, the Falcons are 7-2 in one-score contests. Last year they were 2-8. That, right there, is called progress. The Falcons had made significant strides during head coach Arthur Smith's first season here, with plenty of work remaining.
You all want to talk about what's to come for many players, including Cordarrelle Patterson and Younghoe Koo. We also look at whether Kyle Pitts can continue breaking records and what odds, however, slim, the Falcons have to make the playoffs. Hey, you ask the questions. I just answer 'em.
Let's get into all that in a Monday edition of Bair Mail:
Nathan Pruitt from Gainesville, Ga.
All Falcons fans are praying the team resigns Cordarrelle Patterson, He has been the team MVP all season , and seems like a team leader and type of person you want representing your team and city, but less talked about is Younghoe Koo! With a team that seems to play so many close games a kicker you can trust is vital, and Koo has been solid since he became a Falcon! With the bigger salary cap for 2022 can the Falcons keep both of these important players?
Bair: The cap is going up and that should help, but the Falcons have so many set to enter free agency. By my count, they have 12 key contributors set to hit the market. There are a lot of guys to pay, a few of which will command raises.
Cordarrelle Patterson is in that group. So are Foye Oluokun and Russell Gage.
Koo is a restricted free agent this offseason and will be easier to retain. They can apply a first-, second- or original-round tender to him, meaning he'll have a fixed pay rate for one season, and a team would have to cough up a corresponding draft pick for signing him away. And the Falcons have a right to match. Can't see the Falcons letting him walk after this season but talk of a long-term deal may have to wait. Koo has been as important as anyone this season, with two game-winners and one vital field goal after another. That includes many from great distance.
Justin Vee from Carpentersville, Ga.
Are there contract incentives or other factors that may be leading to Cordarrelle Patterson's reduced involvement over the second half of the season? Any reason to think the team wants to get him more involved over the final two weeks?
Bair: No, sir. This Falcons offense is designed to go where the coverage isn't, to find skill players with room to make something happen. It was Kyle Pitts on Sunday. It has been Patterson before. His snap counted dipped a bit vs. Detroit, but his time spent in the backfield vs. out wide or in the slot has been relatively uniform this season.
Here's what Smith had to say about Patterson's usage and production: "There's an evolution that happens during the season. There's a lot of things that evolve. He's a huge part of our offense, like I said, got another touchdown today. I believe that's his 11th of the season."
Charlie C. from Boulder, Colo.
Scott, doesn't rookie Kyle Pitts need over 100 yards in receiving in the last two games against the bills and saints in order to break Mike Ditka's rookie receiving record for a tight end? And, do you think that Pitts can step up and break Ditka's rookie receiving record in the last two games against two pretty good defenses?
Bair: Kyle Pitts has 949 receiving yards after this Lions win, where he also set a franchise record in that category. Can he surpass Ditka’s mark? He needs 127 yards to match it. I do think he can get there within the flow of the game. He did well against the Saints last time, and I highly doubt he'll get shut out in Buffalo.
The records seem important to Pitts, to do what no one else has done. Quarterback Matt Ryan is aware of the record, but Pitts hasn't brought it up and Ryan won't force the ball where it doesn't belong.
Gaz Hirst from England
Longtime Falcons fan from over the pond here.
So I know that Han Solo said "Never tell me the odds" but where does the win this week leave us? I've been looking at the scenarios and do you think it's possible for us to make it with the 49'ers and Vikes stumbling?
Have to say it's been a decent season. Despite the Cap issues, No WR1 for a few games and the struggles from the O line at times to establish a running game/pass block I am really happy we are at 7 wins. Looking forward to next season and seeing what the HC/GM can do next RISE UP!
Bair: The odds aren't great, Gaz. Their odds of making the postseason go to 25 percent even if they win out, so suffice it to say they need LOTS of help. Si.com broke it down for us. They got it in Week 16, with the Washington and Minnesota losses. Then they need the Vikes to lose in Week 17 and the Eagles to lose in Week 18. They also need the Eagles and WFT to split their meetings, so Washington has to win the next one.
None of it matters without winning out, which may be the toughest task.
Check out the best black and white images from the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions game during Week 15 of 2021.
Casey Brewton from Claxton, Ga.
It's a no brainer that our team has multiple holes to fill. Do you think we need to draft offensive linemen, defensive linemen, DBs, an RB or a QB to learn under Matt Ryan and eventually take over?
Bair: You're right that the Falcons have lots of draft needs. And while I typically say the Falcons should take an edge rusher in the first round, the order of selection doesn't really matter. The Falcons need a ton, and they should take the best player they can find at every selection point. Quarterback, however, is the wild card. When you fall in love with one and you truly believe he's a franchise-type, move mountains to get him.
Call for questions
We've got two more Bair Mails left in 2021. Crazy, right?!? This year has flown by fast. Let's keep the submissions high and send your questions in, using this link, for inclusion in Wednesday's mailbag.
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 Atlanta Falcons Insiders Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney and Kris Rhim. 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.