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Bair Mail: On Desmond Ridder, Eddie Goldman, breakout season candidates, Feleipe Franks and Avery Williams

We also debate whether offense or defense will be better in this Friday mailbag

Happy final Friday before training camp, everyone.

I'm going to divert my preamble space away from Falcons football and to a new talent who's going to cover the team.


I'd like to introduce the Bair Mail crew to Ashton Edmunds, our new Falcons features writer. You're going to love getting to know him and his work. Read right here all about his background, his affinity for the Falcons from the Mike Vick era and why he's pumped to come (back) to Atlanta and serve this readership well.

Please follow him on Twitter (@ae11_) and keep an eye out for all the great features and beat coverage he has coming up.

Now, let's get to your questions in this end-of-the-week mailbag.

Damion McCathy from Middletown, N.Y.

Do you think that Des Ridder, will become starter at some point in the season, and if so, when? Thank you for all the content about the Falcons.

Bair: I'm of the opinion that Marcus Mariota will begin the season as the starter and could be pretty good running Arthur Smith's offense. That doesn't mean Desmond Ridder's the backup all year. It will depend on the Falcons record as the season continues, and whether the Falcons are committed to seeing him in regular-season game action in 2022.

If he doesn't win the starting gig out of the gate, I think it will be later in the year. I'm also not eliminating the prospect he could win the job out of camp. He's a smart, savvy guy who picked up the scheme fast. I'm not into doubting quarterbacks who went 44-6 in college and never lost a home game. Those guys don't go down easy, and Ridder's as committed as anyone to establishing himself as an NFL starter.

Dirty Birdy from Cordele, Ga.

Who's going to replace Eddie Goldman?

Bair: Eddie Goldman was a Falcon for long. Just a couple weeks in fact. He signed and then retired this week, but losing him is still a low-key big deal despite the fact he never took a practice rep for the Falcons. They needed depth on the defensive interior, a big body who can plug gaps and anchor the run defense. Goldman wasn't necessarily top tier, but he's an established veteran who could've really helped this unit.

I think they should remain on the hunt for interior help and competition as the summer progresses. They could use another big body outside Anthony Rush with some NFL experience.

G Man from Buford, Ga.

Who's our biggest surprise next season -- CP style?

Bair: Love the question, G Man. Direct and to the point. Like my preambles. Ha. I feel like I should stay on brand here and say Lorenzo Carter. I think he has a great chance to thrive in this defense, and he'll have plenty of opportunity to shine along this defensive front. He hasn't wowed over the course of a season to this point, but this could be a breakout year for the Georgia alum.

I've written that several times already, so I might as well carry it all the way.

Dylan Moore from Northeast, Pa.

Hey there buddy, I see a lot of people giving love to Felipe Franks and Avery Williams and it's great. However does them swapping positions actually lower their chances to make the 53 man roster?. Williams should make it due to special teams, but does Franks also fall into that group as well? He had some fun catches already as a TE, but we already have a unicorn there. I love their willingness to do whatever the team needs but it does not bode well for them to me.

Bair: I don't think Avery Williams is going anywhere, considering his value as the return man as special team contributor. I think coaches believe he had a better chance making an impact on offense. He was a successful running back in high school and what makes him a good return man serve him well on offense.

I think it actually helps his odd of making the team that Franks is working as a tight end. They're more likely to keep a third quarterback – several teams keep only two these days – considering he has special teams and possibly on offense. He has some athletic ability and is using to add to his value on the team as a whole.

David Hicks from Marshalltown, Ia.

With so much money tied up in "dead money" this year, I hope the fanbase remains patient as the team fills holes within their budget for both sides of the ball. I hope we'll compete, but this is a transition year (again?). While people say defense may win championships, it's the offense that often wins games during the season. Do you expect to see the most improvement in the offense or defense? Both of have plenty of new faces.

Bair: Always great to hear from you, David. You're right, this another transition year while the Falcons get right with the cap, but this should be the last one. They'll have freedom next year to maneuver through the free-agent market while continuing to add through the draft.

There's a lot of new on this team, on both sides of the ball, and I think it could be a close call between which side of the ball is better. My instinct, however, says defense will make some strides. The secondary isn't only better. I think it's pretty good with AJ Terrell, Casey Hayward and Isaiah Oliver at cornerback. I think the inside linebackers will be solid. Improvement, however, is depended on the pass rush. Can they generate one with Lorenzo Carter, Ade Ogundeji, Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone? If the answer's yes, the defense could be better than many think.

Call for questions

Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Monday's mailbag, which will post just a few days from camp!!


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