And…we're on to Washington. The Falcons victory over the New York Giants is now and forever in the rearview, as focus shifts to Sunday's contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
While the Falcons have shown improvement over the first three games, there are no illusions inside or outside the team complex about this team being complete, or anywhere close to fully formed.
- Inside Younghoe Koo's pursuit of perfection
- Bair: What happened in Arthur Smith's first win as Falcons head coach more valuable than a milestone
- Inside Tori's Notebook: Keepin' up with Lee Smith, Isaiah Oliver and other overlooked game changers
- Bair Mail: On Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst targets, A.J. Terrell and winning streaks
There's a ton left to clean up, to improve. They must be more consistent to compete with even midlevel teams. The mistake volume must, in my mind, plummet like a lead balloon.
It's clear from our mailbag you all still have concerns about the team and how it can improve. Let's address those issues in Wednesday's Bair Mail:
Jimmy Bridges, North Augusta, S.C.
I wrote you a couple of weeks ago about Franks possibly being a Swiss army knife like Taysom Hill. You said no way. Well in the Giants game he was in at quarterback on 3rd-and-1 and also a couple of plays at tight end. My question is do you think it will continue?
Bair: I remember that question, Jimmy. It was a good thought on your part. Arthur Smith had a similar one. Great minds and all that. But I still don't think Feleipe Franks is a Taysom Hill type. Even Smith, who installed a Franks package, said Hill’s one-of-a-kind in his ability to run routes and things like that. While Franks lined up in different spots, his only contribution was on a zone-read that didn't go anywhere.
It's certainly possible, if not probable, Smith will continue trying to use Franks in unique ways. He's a creative guy using the athletes available to him. Call me old fashioned (you're old fashioned!!!) but I don't want Matt Ryan without the ball in his hands for even one snap. And I can't think of a situation where I wouldn't rather have Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst and Lee Smith will the ball in their hands over someone new to the position.
Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.
Hey Bair, I've been loving the column and I got a two-part question for you. Even though we're only 3 games in, the defense has been the most consistent piece to the team thus far. With AJ Terrell still working his way back from the (concussion) protocol, Do you think the defense will be able to hold up against Washington and better opponents going forward? Secondly with Marlon Davidson getting hurt (again) and John Cominksy working his back from a concussion how long before our lack of depth really starts to expose the defense, when we're going to need the offense to really click to keep us in games?
Bair: Dean Pees' defense is starting to come together. They aren't blitzing a ton, but they're coming from creative places. The defensive line played far better against the New York Giants, which a standout game from Grady Jarrett. The dude was awesome, well beyond that swim-move sack that made jaws drop.
Depth is a problem, though it was impressive to see T.J. Green hold his own. The line will have to do the same, and continue getting standout contributions from Dante Fowler.
The Falcons can’t let Antonio Gibson get loose, and they have find ways to corral receiver Terry McLaurin. That won't be easy, but it's doable.
Robert McMiller from Savannah, Ga.
Just my opinion. Matt holds the ball to long before he releases the ball i believe a quicker release would (HELP)/MATT WATCHS THE PERSON HE'S GOING TO THROW TO THE COMPLETE ROUTE I THINK HE NEEDS TO LOOK THE DEFENSE OFF THEY ARE WATCHING HIS HEAD THEREFORE THEY GET A JUMP WHERE HE IS GOING WITH THE BALL.
Bair: I looked up the numbers, and Matt barely holds on to the ball at all. He has the fifth-fastest time in pocket, averaging 2.62 seconds before getting the ball out. That's quick. He the average time before he gets sacked is 3.09 seconds, the fourth fastest time before going down. That's a line issue, not a quarterback issue.
Charlie C. from Boulder, Colo.
It seems as though that Jalen Mayfield has been improving since week 1, and he's not my biggest concern for our offensive line, but Kaleb McGary has been struggling mightily for a third-year starter a right tackle, so when do you think that Matt Gono might return? I think that center Matt Hennessy hasn't struggled nearly as much as McGary, so that's been a pleasant surprise, and with how good the Washington football team's defensive line is, I hope that Dave Ragone, and Arthur smith can come up with a great game plan to use our running backs & tight ends to help chip block against their defensive line and attack their linebackers on seam routes by Pitts and Hurst.
Bair: I agree with you, Charlie. Right tackle is an issue to this point. Kaleb McGary has allowed two sacks and 11 total pressures in three games and hasn't been great in the run game. Honestly not sure about Matt Gono's current status, but I don't think he was ever expected back at this point.
The Falcons will certainly scheme some help for the offensive front against Washington's standout defensive line, meaning Lee Smith could play a vital role in this one. They have to buy Ryan some time to get the ball out. That will be essential to Sunday's outcome.
Michael Gerwing, Ahaus, Germany
Good morning Scott, and greetings from Germany. You are doing an excellent work covering our Falcons. My question regards Grant. What's his status so far in the Team. I know that every rookie develops on a different pace and truly believe that our coaches evaluate the players right, but after years of wasting 2nd day picks it would be nice to find some good players. How has Grant's camp been? Thanks for your answer.
Bair: The Falcons second-round NFL Draft pick has become a core special teams player as a rookie, though he isn't currently making defensive contributions. Coordinator Dean Pees has made it clear Grant needs a firmer grasp of the defense before working in on game days, leaving Jaylinn Hawkins as the primary reserve.
He was just okay this summer, so it's no shock that he isn't contributing heavily on the defensive end.
Call for questions
We've got one more Bair Mail left before the Washington clash. Submit your questions right here to get involved with the next 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.