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Bair Mail: On Kyle Pitts and Drake London, Grady Jarrett and Marcus Mariota

You questions get answers in this Wednesday mailbag

Yeah, I know. You just read a Bair Mail on Tuesday morning. Now you're getting one 24 hours later. What gives?

Monday was so full of news, with the Grady Jarrett roughing call and the Deion Jones trade, that we pushed it back a day to let all that sink in (and write tons of other headlines). So Monday's mailbag. Wednesday's is right on time. And, thankfully, you all came correct with enough questions for a quick-turn mailbag. That isn't always easy, but it's appreciated.


Anyway, let's get to this three-question Bair Mail, discussing the Kyle Pitts/Drake London pairing, Grady Jarrett's hot start and, in what is becoming a mailbag staple, more Marcus Mariota talk.

Let's get right to it, shall we?

Nate B from Atlanta, Ga.

Hey Bair, What was the point of spending 2 top 10 draft pick back to back years on good pass catchers if we average only throwing 20-25 times a game? Little confused of Arthur Smith's plan here. If he wanted/planned on running the ball 70% of the time like the browns or titans, why spend such a high pick on pass catchers and not high talent O-Line or a top tier running back in the top of the second round?

Bair: A few things on this, Nate. First off, they don't exclusively draft for need. There's a best available player element to all this and, if one of the top offensive tackles were available, we might be talking about a different dude at No. 8. Who knows?

That's point one. Point two: Arthur Smith is looking for an explosive offense on the ground and through the air. I believe he's essentially striving for balance but, he won't go for that if one unit's a bit behind the other. Right now, the run game is ahead of the passing game in my opinion. The air attack isn't in consistent sync at this stage. While it has produced some big plays, it's lacking in some way. That's why I think you're seeing a run dominant team right now. Don't get me wrong, here. The Falcons will be a physical team that works the ball well on the ground under Smith.

You also have to think that Smith loves tight ends. Kyle Pitts is as talented a tight end as there is in this league. He also likes big, receivers who can gain yards after the catch. That's Drake London in a nutshell.

More than anything else, he's all about having dynamic, explosive players. He got a pair of them in Pitts and London, who should be productive offensive fixtures here for a long, long time. And don't stress; They'll have plenty of time under the sun in Smith's offense.

Earnest M from Atlanta

Everybody's talking about the Jarrett roughing-the-passer call, as they should. It was a terrible call that cost the Falcons dearly. But I think there's something lost in all that. Grady is off to a great start. Why do you think he's getting to the quarterback so often when he didn't have many sacks last year?

Bair: I'm glad you brought that up, Earnest. Let's say that flag doesn't happen. That puts Jarrett at 4.5 sacks through five games, which would lead all defensive tackles in that category. It also would've marked the third straight game he made a decisive fourth quarter play that impacted the end of a game. That's MVP of the team type stuff. As it stands, his 3.5 sacks and 20 total pressures are second only to Aaron Donald, with his pass-rush productivity – a PFF stat based on QB pressures weighted toward sacks – sky high.

He has been impactful and has set a proper tone for this defense. I wrote a little something on Jarrett's early-season impact last week and asked him several questions about his individual performance before starting to type. He deflected each one, choosing to focus on the team. This dude has been around a while. He just wants to win. That's why he was so upset after making a play, doing everything right and still getting penalized for it. That call cost his team a chance to make a comeback attempt. That mattered more, way more than any individual sack number.

Zackery Goodnight from Dallas Tex.

I feel like every week is always focused on Marcus Mariota. And I know I've commented on him as well. But I don't think we have asked this before, and maybe I'm wrong, but what is it going to take to get him benched? That sounds more harsh than I intend. Like I feel like we are playing well besides Mariota. And I think sometimes that seems to overshadow Mariota's bad play. So I wonder what you think it's going to take for the coaching staff to bench him? Or as long as the team seems to be competitive then no change is going to happen?

Bair: I'm answering this Marcus Mariota query, with a Desmond Ridder kicker, because I think it addresses something a bit different. It's not, 'can we switch quarterbacks?' It's, 'what scenario would constitute a switch?'

I think it would have to be a fairly extreme situation. Marcus Mariota has been the unquestioned starter since the spring, and has played well at times. He's also been good operating the offense. While I have written his ball security issues are a bit alarming, there's no indication that his seat is even remotely warm.

I also don't think Arthur Smith will have a quick hook in this situation, with a third-round rookie in Desmond Ridder has his primary backup. Don't forget that Ridder isn't seeing many first-team reps. He generally runs the scout team. And only Smith and the coaching staff really knows if he's ready.

Also, I wouldn't just bring him in against a tough defense and I wouldn't do it in spot relief. That doesn't help the situation either. I believe a situation where they could make a switch if is Mariota struggles over a few games in a row, with an easier opponent and some extra practice time, after a Thursday game or a bye to help get ready. So, in sum, I think the odds of a switch are pretty slim. And the situation would have to be just right, in terms of record and opponent, and Mariota struggles and Ridder's readiness. I also think it's possible we don't see Ridder all year.

Time will tell on all that.

Call for questions

Let's refill the mailbag in time for Friday's Bair Mail. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in that article.

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