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Bair Mail: On Hayden Hurst, Anthony Miller, Arthur Smith and the process of building Falcons right

Your questions get answers in last mailbag before Falcons play Jets in London


The Falcons have touched down in London, with two sleeps remaining before Sunday's gotta-have-it game against the New York Jets at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

They were dealt some body blows before going wheels up, with Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Marlon Davidson staying behind and therefore unavailable.


That doesn't change the importance of getting to 2-3, but it adds difficulty the endeavor. I can tell from the mailbag submissions that you all understand that but agree with me that it doesn't change the fact the Falcons can win this game.

They have to deal with the travel and time change and all that and play some good football across the pond.

Let's discuss all that and more in Friday's Bair Mail:

Charlie C from Boulder, Colo.

Scott, the reason why falcons fans are shocked and pissed off by the falcons loss to the Washington football team is that it reminds us of last year when the falcons got a lead, and they would get conservative and play not to lose, instead of just playing to win, so I hope Arthur Smith and Dean Pees will game plan this Sunday in London against the jets, playing to win, instead of playing not to lose. So, do you think that Arthur Smith will feature [Cordarrelle Patterson], [Kyle Pitts at Hayden Hurst] more in the offense on Sunday in London?

Bair: Thanks, as always, for the submission, Charlie. There are a few things you point out I want to get to.

I don't think anything in Arthur Smith's or Dean Pees' reputations [or on their resumes] suggest conservative. Quite the opposite, actually, when it comes to play calling. They are trying to get units to execute better and, at times, that means scaling it back.

I also think we'll see targets repurposed with Ridley unavailable. He was getting thrown to a ton. Kyle Pitts will be the primary target, but I think there's a real opportunity to get Hayden Hurst heavily involved. I also think that's a good thing. He hasn't been used as much as I expected to this point, and I believe he's a real weapon in the passing game. This would be a good time to show how dynamic he can be.

Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.

Hey Bair, can't get enough of the mailbag. Anyway, do to the cap constraints and not really being a contender at the moment we lost out on acquiring Stephon Gilmore, and potentially Jaylon Smith (if interested in before GB signing). Do you see the Falcons signing Anthony Miller or bringing in any other cost friendly free agents or making a trade? During our Super Bowl run Taylor Gabriel was an integral piece that not many expected to be as good as he was with us.

Secondly, how important is it to beat the Jets without multiple key players on both sides of the ball? Sure, the Jets aren't anything to sneeze at right now, but they're confident coming off last week and that defenses is going to play hard.

Bair: Like both questions, Chris. Let's get to them in order:

1. I don't think the Falcons will be active in the trade market. Draft assets are gold when trying to fortify a thin roster. They could get someone on the street, for sure, if it fits within the very real cap constraints. I think Anthony Miller’s a good guy to go get. Why not see if he can thrive working with Smith after hitting a career speed bump? I don't anticipate Falcons being competitive in a crowded marketplace, however. They do need reinforcements, especially with Smith saying Friday he's not sure when Ridley will be back.

2. I don't like the term must-win unless mathematical elimination's involved. It's a darn important one, as Steve Wyche expertly explains in his column. I can't say it better, so I won't. Check it out right here. My man breaks down why the Falcons are at a critical juncture.

Earnest M from Atlanta

Do you think [Arthur] Smith should have selected an experienced offensive coordinator to call plays and he focus on the overall team?

Bair: Smith is the experienced, creative offensive coordinator you're looking forward. You'd be hard pressed to find a mind, play designer more respected. He's in the top tier, which is part of the reason why the Falcons hired him as head coach.

I know many of you are frustrated with how the Washington game ended, especially the ill-fated fourth-quarter offensive series sandwiched between two opposing scores. I still think executions the root cause of that failure.

Dave Ragone does a great job "setting the table" as he calls it, to allow Smith to focus on head coach responsibilities while still managing and strategizing an offensive game plan. The Falcons have the play caller many want. That includes someone who isn't so stubborn to continue using plays that don't work. He's smart, creative and flexible. Most anyone else would be as impactful in that role. Why keep him out of it?

JC Daniel at Savannah, Ga.

Scott, "You nailed it, nailed it, nailed it." We need an army [with] depth on both sides of the line, and we are feeling the emptiness of the [Vic] Beasley, [Takk] McKinley, and [Deadrin] Senat picks combined with concern over injuries to [Marlon] Davidson (who has potential) and unexpected performance concerns about [Jalen] Mayfield and [Kaleb] McGary. That's six recent high draft picks.

With limited cash, how many seasons before we recover from this nightmare while [Grady] Jarrett and [Jake] Matthews age in football years with so many other positions in need of help and depth? If you were GM how would you rank our needs and plan to address them? I honestly don't know. I do know you can't keep drafting the same positions while aging elsewhere.

Bair: Love this post so much I published the entire thing, J.C. I am a huge nerd when it comes to team building, so all this stuff is right up my alley. When you miss on draft picks, especially in the early and middle rounds, it hurts you two to three years down the road. The Falcons are feeling those previous mistakes. When you miss on first-round picks, you lose star power. It also makes you spend too much in free agency. When you miss in Rounds 2-4, you lose quality depth.

The Falcons are deficient in both areas, and Terry Fontenot will have to hit on picks and build this team back up, not from scratch, but from lower level. It's going to take time, so we all must exercise patience during this grind to build the team up right.

In terms of ranking needs, and this is straight off the cuff, I go with premium positions first. That said, I'm not going to say quarterback first. Matt Ryan's here, and buys to time to fall in love with one instead of being forced to take one that's available right now. Edge rusher's my biggest need right now. Go get one. Nah, two. Form a ferocious front seven. You're not far away. A sack man (or two) would get you there. Then, another shutdown corner. Then a speed demon receiver. And a right tackle. Whenever the quarterback you want comes along, you throw the list away and do whatever it takes to get that guy.


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 Falcons Insiders Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney and Terrin Waack. 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.

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