The Falcons are appropriate underdogs heading into Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Super Bowl champs have won nine straight dating back to last season, a streak that also includes eight consecutive games scoring 30 points or more.
Beating them will be difficult for any NFL team. It'll be impossible if the Falcons play as they did last week against Philadelphia. They need to perform and execute better in several areas, which will be the focus of Friday's Bair Mail.
The goal here is to show paths to improvement and provide some insight that'll help you sound smart while watching the game with your buddies.
We can accomplish both aims in this one mailbag:
Sloane Willing from Melbourne, Australia
G'day from Down Under, Bair. Great to see you pick up where 'Beek left off. It was a tough watch at 3 a.m. on Monday morning. The refs were over-officious and the Falcons gave away some dumb penalties. It will obviously take a few weeks to jell as a team given all the new faces. Where do you see the early improvements? And, what do you think will take a bit longer?
Bair: Great hearing from international Falcons fans. You all have serious commitment getting up at the wee hours (or never sleeping) to watch your team. Love it. It's also a good question to kick off this Bair Mail.
I think all the first-game penalties will drift away. I think Arthur Smith's offense will get cranked up soon. Despite the offensive line's woes, there are too many talented skill players to keep the team from tallying points. On the flip side, it may take some time to find complete sync defensively, especially up front and with blitzes coming from all angles and others needing to cover well while the blitzers attack.
That makes good red-zone offense and defense essential in the early going. They have to capitalize on opportunities by following three guidelines. Don't worry about yards gained or given up. Score 7. Limit them to three.
That's how this team can be competitive in the early going.
Ronald Shearer from Port Orange, Fla.
Could it be possible that the Falcons could put together MORE pass rush against Tampa? Brady will be more of a sitting target. He is not that mobile and will definitely not be calling his own number on any running plays giving the defense one less thing to have to worry about. … I sounded angry my last questions it's just we're seeing all the same problems we have had for the last 3 years. I gotta believe I and not the only fan that was hoping for change.
Bair: Don't worry about your last question, Ronald. We'll take passion over everything around here. You love to see it. I can understand the frustration following that Week 1 mess, though it's nice to see so many focused on how to fare better down the road.
In regard to generating more heat, that's a must against the Bucs. While Tom Brady isn't mobile like Jalen Hurts, he isn't a sitting duck. He's smart, gets the ball out quick and is adept sidestepping pressure. The best way to get guys like that is to bring it from interior, where he can't step up in the pocket and deliver a strike. That's the strength of the Falcons defensive front, where Grady Jarrett resides. A big game from him, one that includes a forced fumble or a turnover of some kind, would prime the Falcons for an upset.
Bill Whitten from Killen, Ga.
I know it's been only one game but if there was a do over of the 2021 draft and you Scott had the authority to make the Falcon's first selection would you select Pitts or an offensive lineman? It seems every year and, statistics support that, Matt is one of the most sacked and pressured quarterback in the league. Pitts might be targeted 10-12 times a game while Matt throws 35 to 40 times a game. Doesn't it make more sense to have better protection for your quarterback than to have a super stud tight end that is thrown to maybe a quarter of your passes? Also consider the better holes being opened up for your running backs. I just don't get the Falcons' thinking.
Bair: Me as the GM. I like the sound of that. Probably more for the paycheck than the pressure associated with the job. Despite what I consider excellent armchair quarterbacking, I'm sure Terry Fontenot is probably better suited for the gig.
But…in this scenario and since you're asking. I'd go Kyle Pitts over just about anybody. I think you'd rather have an elite skill player at that No. 4 overall spot than the fourth best quarterback – with Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance off the board. You'd certainly take Pitts over the top two tackles taken, Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater. Those guys are tackles, too, and you wouldn't solve your guard problem that way. You aren't taking an interior lineman there, either.
Also, don't forget that the Falcons are a longer-term project. They need to collect the best talent available whenever they can, and Pitts was, to me, the unquestioned pick at No. 4.
Arthur Felder from Decatur, Ga.
Bair, Question: why are you guys talking about keeping Matt Ryan at least 2 more years and not drafting his replacement that makes no sense to me, what you are saying? We going to pay Matt for 2 years, that will equal to 5 years of losing for Atlanta Falcons organization if the GM have drafted for the future of the organization in two seasons the falcons would have rebounded from Thomas Dimitroff mess.
Bair: Let's clear some things up, Arthur. I think it's likely, considering his contract status and ability to play at a high level, that Ryan will be around this season and at least another. At no point did I say the Falcons should wait until Ryan leaves to add another quarterback. They'll take a long look at Josh Rosen over the season and, when there's an opportunity to add a young quarterback, I believe the Falcons are going to take it. Just because they took the best skill player available, maybe the best non-quarterback available over the fourth signal caller off the board doesn't mean they don't want a succession plan in place. They just weren't going to force it. That's smart. That's understanding where you are as a team and where you are at the quarterback position.
Call for questions
The mailbag will roll on in the aftermath of Sunday's game against Tampa Bay, but we need great questions to make it two legit to quit. Submit them now or, even better yet, after the final score as been decided. You can do so right here: https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/mailbag