What a thoroughly blah weekend of NFL postseason action that was. There were some wild finishes Cowboys-49ers and Raiders-Bengals, but every other playoff game thus far -- there's inexplicably another one Monday night -- has been a dud.
That's no fun. Not much high drama to this point, though the matchups should get better deeper into the playoff bracket.
There will be some dramatic moments coming up in this Falcons offseason, which will be the focus of this mailbag.
One thing you won't see this time around -- more Matt Ryan. Nothing I say will convince the anti-Ryan crowd of his worthiness. I know I've had this realization before, but we're back here again. I just can't say the same things every Bair Mail. We'll just agree to disagree. Rest assured, Ryan critics, that I see your questions and will let your voices be heard often on this matter, but it can't be rehashing the same argument every single time. That isn't productive, especially with so much to discuss.
There are plenty of other critical matters to address, so let's get to them in this Monday Bair Mail:
Mike S from Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Do you think certain defenders had comparably worse seasons than past years due to a new scheme, and if that's the case is it something that can be coached up or are they just square pieces for round holes?
Bair: I think some players had to adjust to new positions (i.e. Deion Jones) and others to new roles and responsibilities (i.e. edge rushers, Grady Jarrett) in Dean Pees' scheme that may have taken a toll on stats. There are others, however, like Isaiah Oliver or A.J. Terrell, seem like ideal fits.
To your greater point, it takes some time to acquire the body types and skill sets required in a new scheme. That will happen here under Pees, possibly with a bigger-bodied nose tackle type being an asset. More athletic edge rushers, preferably a bit bigger, would help as well. Regardless of scheme, however, the defense needs more athletes and talent across the board.
Pees also made it clear he needs more pass rushers who can get to the quarterback without blitzing and defensive backs who can play in man coverage.
The coaching staff briefed Falcons scouts on exactly what they need upon arriving here and are active in the NFL draft process once the season ends, so the Falcons will find proper fits that will help the defense execute better. Falcons coaches and scouts work well together, and that will help them continue to build the defensive depth chart best suited for the scheme. Pees is also adept at player to an individual's strengths, so he can help bring out the best in the players available as well. After seeing Pees operate in 2021, I have great trust he'll get this defense turned playing consistently well in a hurry.
Fraser Davies from London, England
Hi Scott, I really like the Q+A you do - great insight for Falcons fans all over the world (I'm in the UK and taken to the falcons since 2014). My question, draft focused, we need draft capital this year to set us up for a solid year next year and then even more so when we draft a QB in the 2023 draft (that's the time to draft a QB I believe).
With that in mind, is there good reason to trade down and add picks? Perhaps a few teams might want to jump up and select their QB this year (Washington, steelers). I was looking at steelers from 20th taking our 8th, we could possibly be asking for their first, second and third this year in return for a fair trade which opens up so much opportunity to build the roster. Thoughts?
Bair: This is a light quarterback draft class, analysts say, meaning we could see an early run on other positions. That said, somebody always freaks out and trades up high to get one. Could that happen before the Falcons pick at No. 8? For sure. It's almost likely to happen. But, if there are no QBs taken when the Falcons are on the clock, I would listen to every trade offer under the sun for a team on a quarterback hunt. Adding another future first round pick and maybe more assets in later rounds would be worth a step down the draft board.
The Falcons need both quality and quantity, and trading down's a way to get both. It all depends on the offers presented and the Falcons draft board, how far down top quality resides and how much value could be created by such a deal.
Mark Vanderput from Grand Rapids, Mich.
Scott, thanks for your mailbag! I read everything on the Falcons and may be their biggest fan in Michigan! I was overseas on a missions trip when I learned the sad news that Dan Reeves passed away on January 1.
I was blessed to meet Coach Reeves a few times when he coached the Broncos and then later when I did several chapels for the Falcons. I know he lost 4 Super Bowls as a head coach, but his overall record is very impressive as a player, player-coach, and a head coach. What do you feel are his chances to make the Hall of Fame? If he does, I will do everything in my power to be at his induction to celebrate him as a man and as a coach!
Bair: I think Dan Reeves is deserving of a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it's always tougher when people are elected posthumously -- Reeves recently passed away at age 77 -- considering how much it means to these accomplished players and coaches.
Reeves made it to four Super Bowls – one with the Falcons -- won two coach of the year awards and was 357-190 (.535) over 27 years as head coach. He and Marty Schottenheimer are the only coaches with 200-plus wins not in the HOF, and it probably no coincidence that neither coach won a championship. And, don't forget about his exploits as a player for the Dallas Cowboys, helping that franchise win Super Bowl XII.
He's in a tough spot because of categorization as either a player, coach or contributor. His contributions to the game are unquestioned, and there should a place for him in Canton, Ohio with his peers.
Barry Wynn from Rex, Ga.
I wonder if Chris Carson from Seattle might become available with the emergence of Rashaad Penny near the end of the season. He will be 28 and could form a bridge and not cost a ton of talent to get. He has had his surgery and could be a good fit for the Falcons. What do you think?
Bair: No way I trade for Carson. He's under contract through 2022. If he hits the market and his value doesn't skyrocket, maybe. I think the Falcons need some youth at the position, not another older player. Carson has long been a really good player. I just think it's time to invest in a younger runner, especially if Patterson comes back.
Isaac Abraham from Guyton, Ga.
Could ATL trade for Deshaun Watson? do u think we should draft George Karlaftis or Derek Stingley?
Bair: The Texans want a king's ransom for Deshaun Watson. If I'm GM, no way I pay it. He's a great player, but still has legal issues. And the Falcons need lots of talent, not to use lots of assets on one.
While I'm not delving into much draft prospect talk until after I can really research the draft class, but there's a lot that goes into the George Karlaftis vs. Derek Stingley question, especially depth of both position groups. Given the needs of the defense, edge rusher's my pick in that situation. Waiting until the next round decreases he likelihood you get a premiere pass rusher the Falcons desperately need.
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Wednesday's Bair Mail, where we'll talk all things Falcons offseason.