Bair Mail: On Desmond Ridder's progress, missing Kyle Pitts and Drake London

We also discuss the need to add depth, quality to receiver position in this Monday mailbag

I just read some YouTube comments below the latest episode of our Falcons Final Whistle podcast. Not always a smart move, but I did it anyway. I like reading what listeners have to say, and my ego is tough enough to handle criticism when it's given.

But, after doing so, I want to use this space to clear something up. I know not everyone who listens to the pod reads Bair Mail and vice versa, but this might be the only chance until the next pod to clarify.

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Several of you thought Tori, Ashton and I were advocating to outright replace Desmond Ridder after two starts. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like Desmond a great deal and think he has potential to be a quality starting NFL quarterback. I understand he's a rookie and that he'll make rookie mistakes. I also understand that he made progress between his starts and believe he'll continue to do so through experience and coaching.

I just said that the Falcons still need to add a quarterback or two, and that they shouldn't hesitate to go after someone they love. Then you line 'em up and let 'em compete. We'll learn a lot about Ridder through four games, but we won't know everything. I'm a bit surprised how many were ready to make him the 2023 starter after two games as much I was shocked at how many thought I was ready to move on after two games. Both stances are silly.

Let's not make bold fire takes right now. Let's watch and observe and learn as much as we can about this roster and where it needs to be upgraded, and in what priority, during the offseason.

And with that, let's move on to your questions in this Monday mailbag, which, yes, includes Ridder's recent performance.

Jim Walker from Lakesite, Tenn.

I don't want this to be a "knee-jerk" reaction to just two games at QB...but in an honest evaluation, Ridder has shown promise, but also some negatives. Specifically, his accuracy. His passes seem to always be off target. Maybe just me but that is what I see. My question...do you feel he will progress to the point of being our long-term solution at QB or should we use draft to try to find replacement for Matty Ice? We did get spoiled with so many years of reliable play from Matt Ryan.

Bair: I think that's a fair assessment, Jim. Ridder has looked off-target early in both games, though we're also dealing with a small sample size and Ridder dealt with a pair of confusing defenses the last two games.

We saw more zip and better ball placement as the Ravens game went on. We also saw some solid decision making and growth in that area within the contest, where Ridder wasn't getting fooled by the same thing twice. I do think there are pluses and minuses to how Ridder is playing, as you point out.

Expectations on him, however, should be fair. He's still a rookie learning his way, and he will make mistakes. He'll also have to deal with some adverse circumstances; how he handles them will be key. I would set the same wish for Ridder as Arthur Smith wants from his team over the last two games: win and show progress. If he does that, Ridder will put himself in position to compete for the starting gig next season.

Brad Walker from Elmira, N.Y.

I'm sure you'll get a lot of questions about Ridder, but what can be said about Atlanta's need for another offensive weapon, for him. As it seems Ridder is becoming more comfortable with the offense as time continues but it almost seems that we don't have enough offensive weapons who can get open for him. Granted we don't have Pitts for the remainder of the season. Seems we need maybe another FAST WR in the next draft to compliant London, what are your thoughts?

Bair: I agree with you, Brad, that the Falcons need to add more threats in the passing game, players who make coordinators shake in their shoes. Right now, Drake London's the only receiver who really scares you.

Kyle Pitts will next season, when he returns from having knee surgery. Speaking of Pitts, the Falcons certainly miss him. He would've been a huge asset for Ridder, especially, as he starts his professional career.

Not having him also exposes a problem in the receiver room. The Falcons need another threat in the pattern. Big-play ability and speed would help the group overall. If they could add that, a veteran presence or both to the position group, the offense would be better positioned to find the balance it's looking for. While we haven't seen it in Ridder's two games, I think he has a quality deep ball and a strong arm. They just haven't used that talent much to this point.

The Falcons will have a chance to remodel the receiver room this offseason, with just Drake London under contract for 2023. Many of those brought in last offseason didn't work out. The front office will have to do better this time around, and will have more resources to make that happen.

Anthony Turner from Fort Mill, S.C.

The one thing that the Falcons have got learn is that weather u r on offense or defense, the game is all about the ball. You have GOT TO PROTECT THE FOOTBALL WITH YOUR LIFE !!! You fumble in this league it will more times than not cost you. Mr. London had better get this straightened out. I don't care how many circus catch plays he makes, if u can't hold onto the to the football is all for naught. He will not be in this league long if he continues to do this. He needs to anticipate when he catches the ball each time that players of the other team r going to be coming in from all directions to punch or rip the ball out.

Bair: I don't think there's anyone who understands your point or the impact of lost fumbles more than Drake London. I spoke to him on Saturday night, when he made lots of great plays and one huge mistake.

He said that the fumble negated everything else. He didn't fall back on his technique of covering the ball with both hands and Marlon Humphrey connecting on a low percentage punch-out. He took responsibility and understood how much the mistake hurt his team. He also immediately cut his sleeves off – "that was the last straw for the sleeves," he said. – to maintain better forearm grip on the ball. While his transition to pro ball has been smooth, the turnovers have been an eye opener. He takes the game seriously. I'd bank on him working HARD making sure he fixes the issue.

Call for questions

Submit your questions for right here for inclusion in Wednesday's mailbag. Also, Millard Woods from Atlanta, I'm not ducking your comments because they're critical. I don't mind disagreement or critique, even if it's aimed me personally. I just need a question or topic I can address. Do that and I'll reply.

We take a monochrome look at the game against the Baltimore Ravens on December 24, 2022.

1125 x 663 (MKT TIle) (2x)

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