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Bair Mail: On the goal-line sequence vs. Bucs, losing the line of scrimmage and the Falcons secondary

(Tons) of your questions get answers in Monday’s mailbag


The Falcons dropped to 5-7 after Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. You all weren't thrilled about it, viewing it as an opportunity lost.

That prompted a ton of questions and comments about this team and its' immediate and long-term future.


Let's get to them in Monday's edition of Bair Mail:

Jeff Stone from Roswell, Ga.

Since the running game was working so well, why didn't the Falcons try at least 1 running play when it was 1st down on the 1/2 yd line? It seems like a QB sneak or a Patterson run would have better than the pass when Matt was not getting much protection. As a 37-year season ticket holder, I am very frustrated with the offensive play calling.

Bair: Hey, Jeff. Love hearing from long-time Falcons fans. On to your question. Arthur Smith said after the game that he called a run on second down, when they botched a snap. It's fair to wonder why the Falcons executed a first down from the shotgun, but the Falcons have struggled in short-yardage situations this season, so slamming it up the middle hasn't worked terribly well. I think Smith is a quality schemer and play caller, though he's always open and honest about things that don't work. He evolves. Those are qualities you need from the guy with the play sheet.

Charles Jennings from California

Hey, so my question is the protection I know we talk about this every week. But people love to down Matt Ryan after a loss, but we see him get beat up by the best def lines. Is there something that can be done to help that situation??This was a two-part we have a timetable on Calvin?? And third question will we have money to add more help to the core of the team.

Bair: Thanks for the question(s), Charles. Regarding issues with pass protection and pass rush, might I recommend Tori McElhaney's breakdown of those issues from Sunday night? She covers it well. I would agree that the Falcons do struggle against better defensive fronts, like we've seen against the Eagles, Cowboys and the Buccaneers twice now. Helping the situation must come in the offseason. Promoting someone from the second string isn't an upgrade for the Falcons. They'll have to re-invest in the front, maybe at right tackle, left guard or center, based on the team's evaluations.

On the other topics, Arthur Smith said Monday there's no update on Calvin Ridley. And, no, I wouldn't anticipate the Falcons adding receivers off the street who could upgrade the unit.

Deon Lewis from Atlanta

Why can't the falcons defense ever stop anybody? Our secondary is the reason we keep losing games. Even if we make a playoff run, the defense going to lose the game for us.

Bair: I understand your frustration, Deon, but I have to disagree with you here. I don't think the secondary's the main issue. It's that they're covering too long. The Falcons aren't generating much of a pass rush, especially when sending four. That's the main problem for me, even though I believe defensive backfield will look different next season than it does right now.

Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.

Hey Scott, it's been far too long. Anyway, while the Falcons played decent enough for almost 3 quarters and had some nice key moments, they committed to many self-inflicted wounds. I'm not going to harp on the O-line protection issues because that point has been belabored enough. Jake Matthews however is a veteran who shouldn't be getting flagged like he did AT HOME nonetheless. We had multiple QB/Center miscues, missed coverage and poor tackling in the secondary. Not scoring at the goal line. The refs def let Tampa get away with some calls too, but no excuses. Gage, Patterson, Pitts, Davis, Jarrett, Terrell, Davidson. In my opinion these are the group of guys who kept us in it and deserve some shine as well as Ryan who took a beating all day.

Bair: Thanks for the comments, Chris. Sometimes it's just good to vent. There were some solid individual performances, but this team, as currently constructed, needs to be nearly mistake-free to beat the top opposition. They didn't do that on Sunday.


Marcel Czech from Hamburg, Germany

I was very pleased that we have a solid defense and that we were able to run the ball again. But to be honest, our passing game sucks. In my opinion this is directly caused by the butterfingers of our so-called receivers and the O-Line that does literally nothing to protect Matt when he has to scan field. I'm convinced that if Matt gets the protection that belongs to a future HOF QB and our receivers step up and hold on the football, we're still able to be in mix for an 9-8 season. What do you think? PS: I really enjoy your content and wish all fellow Falcoholics a great Christmas time :)

Bair: Thanks for reaching out from across the pond, Marcel. Hope all is well. The Falcons receiver corps has been underwhelming since Calvin Ridley has been unavailable, even with Russell Gage heating up these past few weeks.

Tajae Sharpe has been okay, but they could use another threat in the pattern with Gage, Kyle Pitts and, sometimes Cordarrelle Patterson. That isn't available to them right now, though Hayden Hurst is set to return to practice and will help the passing game when he's active again.

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Week 13.

Diane Donnelly from Lockerbie, Scotland

I know this isn't a question, but I'd just like to say that with this rollercoaster season the guys have maintained a positive outlook in the way they have dealt with setbacks. In my mind they are already champions. The talent is there, and it is just a matter of time before things go their way.

Bair: Another Falcons fan abroad! That's awesome. Like the glass-half-full outlook. I can say that the Falcons are fighters. That's a good start for a franchise trying to build itself back up.

Lewis Costa from Freehold Township, N.J.

Another home loss and yes we played them tough for about 3/4 of a game but that is no consolation, the one position that is really not talked about much and I think it is in need of a major upgrade is at safety/secondary especially Erik Harris he is always out of position can't cover anyone, Jaylinn Hawkins has shown some glimpses of hope let him play and get more experience and now that he is healthy give Kendall Sheffield a shot at the slot corner because to be honest when he and Isaiah Oliver were drafted he out played Oliver that first year but then get kept getting injured so that did not help his progression, I get it we are a team in flux with no $$ and it is kind of a mini-rebuild and 100% we need line help on both side of the ball. I will never stop supporting this team been a fan since 1980.

Bair: Thanks for the question, Lewis. I said above that I think the secondary has been fine, though some of you want to see some changes at safety. I think Richie Grant and Jaylinn Hawkins are the future of the position. I also think it's possible Isaiah Oliver could return to a feature role in Dean Pees' defense.

I think the last draft was the big secondary investment, with Grant, Darren Hall and Avery Williams coming aboard. The team need another outside corner, but there are higher priorities out there.

Call for questions

Let's get the mailbag filled up with questions about the Falcons present and future in time for Wednesday's Bair Mail. Submit your inquiries 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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