Players started arriving in Flowery Branch on Tuesday for Falcons training camp. Practice starts the following day.
That means we're finally here.
- Positional breakdowns: Quarterbacks; Running backs; Receivers/Tight ends, O-line; D-line; ILBs, EDGE; Secondary
- Bair: Arthur Smith scheme, personnel upgrades provides potential for more explosive offense
- Wyche: Competition will be fierce during fascinating Falcons training camp
- Finding the Falcons rookie class: Drake London, Arnold Ebiketie, Troy Andersen; Desmond Ridder; DeAngelo Malone, Tyler Allgeier, Justin Shaffer, John FitzPatrick
It's football season again.
That brings up a bunch of questions in the final Bair Mail before we see this year's team in action. I don't know about you, but I can't wait. Bet you can't either.
There's definitely excitement in the mailbag, so let's get right to your questions.
Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.
Hi, Scott, it was well documented that Julio, for all the great catches, etc., did not score as many td's as you would think. If memory serves me correctly, Kyle Pitts only scored one las year. Is this just accidental or is there some other reason?
Bair: I think the lack of red zone targets for Kyle Pitts wasn't a Pitts problem. He didn't have tons of help, meaning coverage shifted his way. Cordarrelle Patterson scored a ton and was a reliable red-zone weapon, and the lone TD for Pitts was the only pock on an otherwise stellar season. Bold prediction: Pitts will score a lot more this season. He's learning how to beat coverages and work in tight spaces. He's so big and athletic that he'll find ways to get open or just go get the ball when he's not.
I think he's going to be a major factor in the red zone, either as a target or someone creating openings for others.
David Hicks from Marshalltown, Ia.
No doubt Drake London is our WR1, but as a rookie, I guess we'll have to see how that works out. But I think WR2 is much less clear...Bryan Edwards, Damiere Byrd, Olamide Zaccheaus, Auden Tate, etc....but what about Geronimo Allison? Nobody seems to have the absolute lock on the WR2, in my opinion. WR3 will be a battle too. That doesn't even include CP, who I think we'll see more as a running back/gadget back than as a WR, now that we have London. How does the WR roster shake out in your opinion?
Bair: When it comes to a second starter at the receiver spot, Bryan Edwards is the guy. That's my opinion heading into camp, though he'll certainly be challenged. The South Carolina is a solid deep threat on the outside, with experience as a regular contributor. I think he's the secondary option at the receiver position.
But, David, if we're referring to WR1 as the top receiving option, I don't think a receiver is it. Kyle Pitts is the best option and will play receiver a ton. In terms of a pass-catching hierarchy heading into camp, I think it's: 1. Pitts, 2. London, 3. Patterson, 4. Edwards.
The Falcons are challenging the separation between pass catchers based on position. To your original point, London will get tons of targets. They need him to perform. I think Edwards will have a huge in this offense and will play a ton. He has the skill set to help him succeed in this system. Auden Tate will push him to play, but I think Edwards will be a top option and regular in the pattern.
Graham DeLoach from Hendersonville, N.C.
With how our roster is shaping up, do you think we will see a more mobile offense with our QB's? ie: screen and option plays. I miss our screen play and strong run offense during the Shanahan years. With mobile quarterbacks under center, I would hope we can create a little confusion with some option play and some deep threats over the top to bomb it to in case the gap is not there.
Bair: Arthur Smith doesn't let me in offensive strategy sessions, but he'll certainly play to his signal caller's strengths. That's what good coaches do. And Arthur Smith is a good coach. He has things in the playbook that will accentuate Marcus Mariota’s strengths – or Desmond Ridder's, if he wins the gig – that will show up during the season. No way he calls the exact same stuff he did for pocket passer Matt Ryan.
Smith is excellent finding or creating mismatches to exploit. I would expect him to do that and use Mariota's speed a great deal in his play designs.
Shane Hymers from Canterbury, England
Hi Bair, Fun question. Pretending that they would come back in their prime, if you could add one piece to compliment the current roster from historical Falcons players, who would you choose and why?
Bair: That is a fun one, Shane. And an easy one for me. I'm gonna pick my favorite former Falcon, who would help an area of desperate need. Claude Humphrey. He was an absolute monster at defensive end, able to create incredible pressure. If sacks would've been a stat in his day, he’d have 130 in his career. You think the Falcons could use an intimidator like that off the edge? Heck, yeah. He dominated his era. I think he would dominate in this one, too.
Kevin Fitzpatrick from Conyers, Ga.
Hey Scott, I thought I try to get this in before everything ramps up this week. In my mind the Atlanta Falcons have the BEST radio play by play team in the business! Wes Durham is knows exactly what he's talking about and is flawless. Dave Archer seems to anticipate each and every question I have. They both broadcast college games and they share intuitions and gut reactions to who we're facing. What makes them special is their chemistry. Neither one steps on the others line. This is coming from someone old enough to remember the blackout days. I was a Tampa Bay fan in those days so I could only LISTEN to eight games. I listened to A LOT. Fortunately, we were blessed with a man names Gene Deckerhoff. Gene/Wes: one-A and One-B. Dave Archer is the best analyst I've ever listened to.
Bair: I hope they read this, Kevin. I'm sure it'll make their day. Not only are they great professionals, they're also great humans. Falcons fans are lucky to have them.
Call for questions
Training camp is starting, but the mailbag won't miss a beat. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in the next Bair Mail installment.