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Bair Mail: On Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst targets, A.J. Terrell and winning streaks

We discuss all that and more in a rapid-fire mailbag. 

Bair Mail.9.27

The Falcons got a win.

It was a dramatic one, as you all see, with a fourth-quarter comeback sealed with Younghoe Koo’s decisive field goal as time expired. Matt Ryan and the Falcons rose up (see what I did there) after early struggles and found a way to score when mattered most.

It was a great Sunday for Falcons fans after two messy affairs against the Eagles and Bucs and stands at Arthur Smith's first win as a head coach.

This rebound should leave fans hopeful and a little worried that more will be required to beat better competition. The Giants, as we saw, are not good.

There's plenty to discuss immediately following this Week 3 contest, and I wanted to use Monday's Bair Mail to let you all vent, comment and question in a rapid-fire Q+A that gets a bunch of voices heard.

Tons of you chimed in after the game and thank you for that. You all made this one fun. Let's keep the high volume coming in the future. Right now, let's get to your questions:

Derrick McAdoo from Stone Mountain, Ga.

You are going to get a lot of these. But why do you think Kyle Pitts was not targeted more Sunday?

Bair: Smith and Matt Ryan said the Giants were working hard to take him out of the equation, often with a linebacker or defensive back in coverage and a safety over the top. Space was tough to come by early.

It's clear, however, that he’s pretty good when targeted, with gains after reception or with penalty calls. He is a factor. Gotta get him early touches, even by design, when you can.

Smith called it a "surface narrative" that ignores what the Giants were doing defensively. To that point, he's right. But there's still no arguing that the Falcons are better with Pitts heavily involved.

Charlie C. from Boulder, Colo.

Scott, now that the Falcons finally got their first win of the season and with the Washington football team and the jets coming up next, and maybe the falcons can get on a little winning streak before the bye, so what do you think?

Bair: It's decidedly possible with the level of competition coming up. It's also a topic that Tori McElhaney discussed in detail during last week’s Great Debate. In general, getting the Giants game was vital. We have seen how the Jets stink, so a W's possible there. Can they score against Washington next week, with its vaunted defensive front against Falcons suspect offensive line? I have my doubts.

Charles Jenkins from Riverdale, Ga.

Why does the media displays us as a team that can't win anything? I know it's rebuilding time, however the hustle than the players show should be the headlines instead of sloppy game.

Bair: I think you saw positive headlines after the Giants game, focusing on the final stretch. It's also fair to wonder how they'll do against better competition and explain areas where the must improve in a hurry. Gotta cover the team from all angles. Maybe I'm bias – I totally am – but I think we do a good job of that around this site. Appreciate you reading.

Billy White Shoes from Augusta, Ga.

I understand it's early and Arthur Smith is a rookie head coach, BUT C'MON MAAAAN, OPEN UP THE PLAYBOOK AND GET HURST & PITTS INVOLVED!!!!! Both guys are not your prototypical tight end (Lee Smith is a standard in-line TE Pitts & Hurst can move around and line up at different spots even if it's just as a decoy and find mismatches. With that being said….WOOOOO VICTORY MONDAY!!!!!!!

Bair: Billy, this is the second tight end question I've taken and, roughly, the 25th in the mailbag. You all want Pitts and Hurst more involved. Noted.

I don't think play calling is the issue. We've seen a lot that teams are content to rush four – and pressure Ryan that way – and play in zone coverage keeping plays in front of them. The quarterback is being disciplined in those cases. Takes out the explosive plays sometimes, but the Falcons must find their weapons some space. I do agree that tight ends need to be more involved. I'm high on Hayden Hurst and think he can be a huge weapon for this offense when targeted.

Bottom line: few play callers use tight ends like Smith. I think that, at the end of the year, numbers for Hurst and Pitts will be high.

Kerry Miller from Centerville, Ga.

Always great on a Monday after a win. It was a struggle and a win is great and nice to see a little of the old Matty Ice return. I was wondering what is the status of AJ Terrell as I thought the secondary was soft a lot on Sunday.

Bair: Smith said that Terrell remains in the concussion protocol, with a few steps remaining. The team will be cautious with the standout cornerback, but he has a chance to play Sunday. I actually thought the Falcons secondary has held up well even with the Terrell injury.

David Saur from Griffin, Ga.

Hi! How can the Falcons tighten up their pass coverage so as to not allow so many 3rd down conversions. Is it a matter of skill, game planning, individual play calls? Thanks.

Bair: You bring up a good point, David. The Falcons rank 23rd on third-down conversions allowed at 43.59 percent. I agree that's too much. I would say getting into more third-and-longs would help, and that falls on the run defense. Getting teams into third-and-unmanageable, that's when the big plays come. I don't think the play calling is an issue with Dean Pees running the show.

Call for questions

Let's keep this run of good questions going. Submit your queries for Wednesday's Bair Mail right here.


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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