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Bair Mail: On Tyler Allgeier, Bijan Robinson and Falcons run game, Desmond Ridder and Grady Jarrett-led pass rush

Your questions get answers in this Friday mailbag, including how the Falcons defense can make more game-changing plays. 

The Falcons are on a two-game losing streak and the fan base is feeling it. There's plenty of doom and gloom after some offensive struggles and some tough times crossing the goal line. Head coach Arthur Smith has said he needs to help jump-start the offense, get going earlier and avoid the deficits that have plagued this team over the past three weeks.

It's no surprise that dozens of you chimed in about a quarterback change. We try to address my stance on that below. Run game efficiency as vanished a bit, and we discuss that situation. We also talk pass rush and how it can be more impactful on a defense that has been pretty good to this point. Not so much on the coaching change question, cause that isn't even close to happening at this point.

One note that can be a source of optimism: the Falcons don't have a talent problem. There are fixable issues that can be corrected to get the Falcons back on the winning track with Sunday's home game against the Houston Texans on the horizon. Let's discuss the state of the Falcons in the last Bair Mail entering a key Week 5 contest.


Stephen Evans from Franklin, Kentucky

I've been a super loyal fan since 1981, and so is my whole family. My question is , why have we abandoned our running game in the first half. It seems like we come out trying to throw the ball with little success. Putting more stress on our young quarterback. It goes back to the Green Bay game when we're inside the 5 and continually passing the ball until we turn it over on downs. Why have we forgotten Tyler Allgeier?

Bair: It's clear that, Stephen, that opponents are selling out to stop the run and forcing the Falcons to beat them through the air. That only works, however, if you're rocking a really good run defense. The Lions have the NFL's best run defense and Jacksonville is ninth. They were able to limit rushing efficiency which will be hard for others considering how much talent is featured in the Falcons rushing attack. The Texans are 19th, so it'll be interesting to see how they fare against the Falcons.

Regarding the rushing splits, Tyler Allgeier had a strong game in Week 1 but hasn't been efficient in his last three games. Bijan Robinson, by contrast, has been pretty hot. I still believe that Allgeier will get his carries when the run game is going. Also, if the Falcons are working from behind, as they have been in the last three games, Robinson is the superior receiving option out of the backfield and has big-play potential every time he touches the ball.

Also, we should anticipate Cordarrelle Patterson getting in the mix as well, so Arthur Smith must decide how to get touches for all three talented backs. Allgeier needs to find a good rhythm and get on a good track. When he's going strong, the Falcons offense is better and can start to wear defenses down.


Xiang Ji from Princeton, N.J.

Hey Scott. Even though Coach Smith has said Desmond Ridder is still the starting quarterback for now, would you consider this week's game against the Texans to be Ridder's final opportunity to prove himself as a capable starting QB in today's league?

Bair: I don't think Arthur Smith will have a quick hook with Desmond Ridder. This will mark his ninth NFL start; that's barely a half-season to this point. Pulling him for good in Week 5 would be surprising, and maybe a little hasty, if there's a commitment to developing Ridder for the long-term.

I could see a scenario where Ridder struggles and Taylor Heinicke would get called in from the bullpen to give the Falcons a spark in a particular game. They invested heavily in a top-tier backup quarterback just in case, but Smith has continued to laud Ridder's abilities as a leader and a gamer and someone who gives the Falcons a chance. We're still learning about how he reacts and can function at this level. The only way to make a proper judgment is to let him play.

I understand the need to not want to let a win-now season slip away on quarterback play, but you've got to find a long-term solution at the game's most important position. The Falcons don't have one yet. Ridder's the one on the roster who could be a franchise quarterback. You need to give him time to learn and grow and develop as a professional quarterback. We know he's a winner. Can he be one at this level? The Falcons need to find out.


William McBride from Charleston, S.C.

I agree with what you said Monday about Ridder and giving him some time to learn and grow as a QB.... my question is about the D-line. 4 games in and we have the 3rd fewest sacks in the NFL, our secondary is much improved and playing better but they can't cover guys for 7 or 8 seconds. Why can't we get pressure on the QB in key situations?

Bair: I always worry when I defend an element of the team that isn't going well. Look, the Falcons have five sacks. That's not good enough. They have been generating pressure, though, with 63 total pressures. They've hit the opposing quarterback 20 times in four games. That's a decent number even if the sack total isn't. While some say sacks aren't the be-all, end-all, I've always been a big believer in game-changing plays. Sacks, especially strip sacks, rank high among them.

I also think the sack totals will rise when the Falcons aren't playing from behind all the time. Their run defense is good. That will set up some obvious passing situations. So will being up late in games, as we saw against the Panthers, when the Falcons unleashed H-E-double-hockey sticks on Bryce Young.

The defensive interior has been solid, paced by David Onyemata and Grady Jarrett. Bud Dupree was far better against Jacksonville. There are several up front with a track record of success. They'll get theirs. Will it equal a top-10 sack total? Methinks not. But this front is a pressure generator and I think Ryan Nielsen knows when to dial it up.

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the Washington Commanders.

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