We haven't had a Bair Mail in some time, and for good reason. I've been on vacation most of this month, refueling for the start of training camp in a couple weeks.
We're starting to get back in the swing of things, so I asked for some questions on social media and got more than a few good ones.
- One burning question for each position group post-minicamp: Pt. I, the offense | Part II, the defense
- Analysis: Tyler Allgeier has the right mindset after Falcons draft Bijan Robinson
- What Jerry Gray said about A.J. Terrell, Jessie Bates and Jeff Okudah
- How Bijan Robinson made quality first impression on Falcons teammates
- Finding Falcons rookie series: Bijan Robinson | Matthew Bergeron | Zach Harrison | Clark Phillips III | DeMarcco Hellams | Jovaughn Gwyn
Appreciate you all for that.
Most of them dealt with offensive questions and concerns, so we'll sink into those topics in this Friday edition of Bair Mail.
Bill Whitten from Killen, Ala.
Two questions about Kyle Pitts. First, Tori mentioned a hamstring problem the beginning of the 2022 season. Is it completely healed? Second, since the Falcons have evolved into a different team since Pitt's rookie season what are the chances the Falcons would consider trading Pitts for someone who better matches their new system?
Bair: Hey Bill. Hope all is well. To answer your first question: he's going to be fully healed when he returns. I would counter your second question in two ways. First, no trade. No way. Second, Kyle Pitts matches Arthur Smith's system. Also, Smith adapts his system to his personnel. For example, with Matt Ryan, they had to throw a ton. With Marcus Mariota, they ran a ton. With Desmond Ridder, I think they'll achieve greater balance. So, to take this a step further, let's think about who Ridder is as a quarterback. He's a guy who can run but really prefers to let a play develop and find people down the field. That's where Pitts comes in.
Remember those plays versus Miami in 2021? He and Ridder can definitely make those. In terms of a return timetable, Arthur Smith hasn't offered anything definitive other than the fact he believes Pitts will be ready by Week 1. That's all we need to know. I'd bet he practices a good amount before then and that he and Ridder develop the chemistry required to complete Miami-type passes. Or simpler ones to convert on third down. Or, in a situation that hasn't happened much yet, to score touchdowns. I have high expectations for Pitts in 2023 and I think they're warranted. I think he's going to have a big year.
Barry Wynn from Rex, Ga.
People ask how much playing time Cordarelle Patterson should get this year. The fact is, in the past two years he played a good bit in the first half of the season and wore down later in the year. I would like to not see him get many touches as a back but more at wide receiver. Question is how good a route runner is he? Perhaps that is why he has played more in the backfield. He is much older than Robinson and Allgeier. I could see him playing more at wide receiver if he can be more effective than he has been in the past.
Bair: This has been as common a question as we've gotten since the NFL Draft. That's not a bad thing, Barry, and it's a good question. There's a bit of unknown regarding Cordarrelle Patterson's role, but he said he'd like it to look a bit more like 2021 than 2022.
I would, too.
That would mean more moving around, with a fair amount of carries and routes run. He's good at both, though I'm not exactly sure if he's as a crisp in the pattern as some top receivers, but he's excellent in space and can burn you downfield if the coverage isn't on point.
Cordarrelle Patterson remains an excellent player. The biggest issue, as you point out, is him getting hurt. The Falcons don't want that. He's too valuable. But they've created the injury protection required to survive without him for a few games.
That, however, shouldn't alter how the Falcons use him or how he plays. He is a hard runner with a nose for the end zone and can be a real asset inside the 20. He's also of benefit in the pattern, as we saw in 2021. I think Arthur Smith will use him everywhere, and I don't think Bijan Robinson's addition will have as much of an impact on Patterson's touch count as people think. Arthur Smith is a darn good play designer, and he'll find the right ways to use Patterson. And, in 2023, I think that will be as a utility player more than anything else.
Joshua Harvey from Smyrna, Ga.
How do you think Jalen Mayfield fits in the offensive line group? Do you see him playing guard or moving back to tackle, and does he make the 53-man roster?
Bair: Thanks for the question, Joshua. I get lots of inquiries about Jalen Mayfield, someone who played a ton in 2021 and not at all during 2022's regular season. While he play left guard as a rookie, he worked a ton at right tackle during the offseason program.
Head coach Arthur Smith was asked about Mayfield's position this spring and gave a good answer. Versatility is key if you don't end up starting. At this point, it's hard to see an opportunity where he's battling for a first-team position.
Left guard's the only position up for grabs on a solid, stable offensive line. It sure seems like Matt Hennessy (the early favorite) or rookie second-round pick Matt Bergeron (a high pick could could snake a starting gig with a solid training camp) are the primary combatants. There's an opportunity to secure a role as a swing offensive lineman, especially as Kaleb McGary's backup and a brake-glass-in-case of-emergency option at guard.
I do think he's got to earn a roster spot this summer, but there's no reason he can't.
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in the next Bair Mail delivery. It's coming on Monday.
Join us for a sneak peek at some of our favorite photos of Desmond and Drake from the 2023 Atlanta Falcons creative days.