The NFL's second week is officially underway. The Falcons are focused on the upcoming game against the Rams at SoFi Stadium, putting that tough loss to the New Orleans Saints in the rearview. Gotta do it. There isn't time to be stuck in the past. Not with a frustrated Super Bowl champ on the horizon.
There are still plenty who want to know more about last week, so we'll address a few items here before turning the page. We also tough on news of Deion Jones' restructured deal (according to ESPN) and how that could benefit the Falcons.
Colin Jonov from Pittsburgh, Penn.
I know the loss was devastating and people love to focus on the negatives. However, I think there was a lot of positives to build off of. I thought Mariota did a lot of things really well and made decisive decisions with the football. Also, not sure the fumbled snap was His fault. I've played with former teammates of his in Las Vegas who said that he always took the blame on mishandled snaps when it was clearly on the center because that's the type of person and leader he is. What're your thoughts overall on the offense and Mariota's first start?
Bair: Good question, Colin. I thought it was a mixed bag even though the volume of good things outweighed the bad. The problem is this: for all the smart decisions and on-target passes and aggressive runs, you just can't fumble in the red zone. Just can't. If every positive action is worth one point, losing a fumble five yards from a touchdown, late in the third quarter, is minus-20.
I think Mariota would tell you that, too. It doesn't mean his performance was bad. I really like the way he played and how he ran the offense. His effort just contained a fatal flaw. Can't ignore that.
Curt Lilley from Mobile, Ala.
Hey Scott, Hope you're having a good one, despite having to cover that ugly loss on Sunday. I saw where Deion's contract was restructured. While that gives more flexibility in trade offers, I'd hope that we would also use that new cap space for a signing or two. I would hope for some D-line help, but what signing(s) would you like to see? if they make any at all.
Bair: ESPN's Field Yates reported Tuesday that Deion Jones restructured his contract in a way that should provide some cap relief this year and next -- take a look at the deal, as OverTheCap reports it, here -- though it spreads some dead money around through voidable years when the Falcons are better prepared to absorb it.
A significantly decreased base salary could well make him more valuable in trade, but that isn't an option until he can prove healthy. He's currently on injured reserve dealing with a reported shoulder injury.
In terms of how the Falcons will use their additional 2022 cap space, I severely doubt it'll be on one big player you know. Operating through a season comes at a cost, with guys getting placed on IR while making full freight (as they should) and the signing of new faces to replace them. They can also carry over money to next year if they choose, which could be a benefit. Getting draft capital for Jones, if possible, is also of value. This was an interesting, beneficial step. It will also be interesting to see if anything else emerges as a consequence of this development.
Hank Limardo from New Jersey
Hey Scott, Any update as to why Tyler Allgeier was a healthy scratch this past Sunday? Do you think he will be active this week? If so, how much of role do you think he will have considering Patterson's great game.
Bair: Your question is one many had once the Falcons-Saints inactives were released. While it was clear Damien Williams and Cordarrelle Patterson would take a good sum of carries, seeing Tyler Allgeier inactive wasn't expected.
Special teams takes a higher priority when filling out the final active roster spots on game day, and that weighed heavily into the decision making. Instead of trying to paraphrase him, I'll let Arthur Smith take it from here:
"A lot of it comes down to special teams. Some weeks, maybe we'll have five running backs up, but when you have Avery and Keith, who are good special teams players, you have to make that assessment. … We felt like we wanted to go heavier more in the interior d-line. With the way the game plan was, we went a little heavier at tight end, and then Kyle [Pitts] ended up playing a significant number of snaps. Drake played more snaps, and that's a credit to Drake. The guy missed a couple of weeks, practiced pretty well and he was rolling, so we kept him in there. Some other guys that we dressed didn't play as much as we anticipated and it took a little bit from the back, but we'll reassess that and look to do it once we put the plan in for Sunday."
Hopefully that provides some insight into Smith's thinking. Regarding his role, I don't think Patterson's performance will have an impact on it. I also don't anticipate him having 22 carries per game, with a fair amount going to Williams. Allgeier will be a presence, maybe not a large one early this season, but he'll get his chances and likely more as he continues to prove himself, master the scheme and be steady as a pass protector. I still think he's an excellent short-yardage option who could find carries there and on early downs.
We take a monochrome look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints on September 11, 2022.
Mike S from Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Figured there would be no mailbag Monday since nothing us fans had to say was fit to print on a family friendly website! Now that we've cooled down a bit, my question is this - why is it always the Falcons who blow up in the fourth? This has been ongoing since Mike Smith and is such a consistent thing that it would be funny if we weren't fans.
Bair: You nailed it, Mike. I got more than 50 questions and comments right after Sunday's game. Most of them weren't printable, as you point out. They all addressed the same topic, which I thought Tori answered to well to simply rehash.
Why have the Falcons struggled in the fourth quarter over the last several years? That's a near impossible question to answer, and we may find out it's not much more than other teams that have struggled overall. It probably comes down the Super Bowl issue and the knee-jerk 'here we go again' reaction. I haven't been here long, so I don't have that with this team.
It'd be easy to sit here and say all the platitudes, that every year's a different year and there's no connective tissue between one regime, or season, and the next. That's real. But, the fan base feels a different type of way and that's real, too. The tough part is this: Let's take last year as an example. The Falcons went 6-2 in one-score games. In both losses, fans were upset about not winning late. It's a tough habit to break. I think that's what it comes down to and it will take a lot of positive results in the fourth quarter to eliminate this reaction.
Grady Jarrett's one of the few folks who have been around long enough to understand that. He addressed it in his postgame comments, while also expressing the reality that the way to move on from disappointment hasn't changed.
"We have to go back to work. I know I've sat up here and said it before, but it's simple. We gotta finish the game as a whole team."
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