We've officially reached the sleepy part of the NFL offseason, when all involved with the league takes some much-needed time off. News will come less frequently without OTAs or minicamps to keep us engaged, but there will still be plenty to discuss in summer Bair Mails as we move through the summer.
- One question for every Falcons position group: Part I, the offense | Part II, the defense
- Falcons announce weight room, locker room expansion and renovation
- How Ryan Nielsen has set proper tone for Falcons defense
- Notes, observations from minicamp: Day 1 | Day 2
- Finding Falcons rookie series: Bijan Robinson | Matthew Bergeron | Zach Harrison | Clark Phillips III | DeMarcco Hellams
We'll keep them up once or twice a week during this period, answering your Falcons questions about the 2023 season. There will be plenty to discuss, considering the level of optimism about this squad and the question marks that come from so much new.
So let's get right to this Friday edition, which deals with Tyler Allgeier, Bud Dupree, Desmond Ridder and some third-year guys who need to step up this summer:
Jon Wach from Buford, Ga.
How does Tyler Allgeier fit in with Bijan Robinson taken so high and Cordarrelle Patterson still here? Will he get his chances?
Bair: There's no doubt that he will, Jon. Tyler Allgeier proved himself a quality NFL running back last season, when he set a Falcons rookie record with 1,035 rushing yards in 2022. He's an elusive running back who can run through you and sidestep you, with a punishing style that will fit with what Arthur Smith likes to do.
I would anticipate Bijan Robinson and Cordarrelle Patterson moving around the formation, with significant time in the backfield as traditional rushers. That shouldn't exclude Allgeier for one second. He might not be a four-digit rushing yards guy, but he'll earn big-time moments in the sun.
There's too much good game tape to ignore, especially for a running back who has spent his offseason working on being an all-around back. I spoke to Tyler on Wednesday and he talked a ton about improving his rushing paths, about hitting openings hard and getting better with his footwork.
He also wants to show coaches that he can be a true all-around back, someone who can protect and can turn receptions out of the backfield into important gains. Look, the Falcons have tons of skill players who deserve a shot with the ball in hand. Allgeier is one of them. There's no doubt Smith recognizes that and will give him opportunities to shine.
Payton Victoria from Smyrna, Ga.
I've heard a lot about Calais Campbell coming in, but not as much about Bud Dupree. He has really good in the past. How has he been? Can he help our pass rush?
Bair: I sure think so. I've talked to Bud Dupree a few times this offseason, and he's so pumped about the upcoming season. The Macon, Ga. Native is really excited to play in his home state, and he finally feels 100 percent healthy, with the burst and explosiveness that comes with that state, following two years with injury troubles in Tennessee.
He told me he's "as confident as ever" heading into 2023, looking to find vintage form. That would look like double-digit sacks created off the edge, something the Falcons have sorely missed in recent seasons.
Dupree has already made a solid impression on the Falcons coaching staff, even before putting the pads on.
"Bud's a physical football player," head coach Arthur Smith said, via The Athletic. "I kind of like that. He will set an edge. Bud's a tone-setter. That's putting it nicely."
Consider those kind words from a head coach who uses compliments conservatively, especially when it comes to physicality and toughness. You have to earn those monikers. Dupree's track record and the impression he has already made has earned some high praise to this point. If Dupree can be a solid run defender and a prolific pass rusher, his signing could be a major win.
Geoffrey Cobb from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Normally starting quarterbacks play little during the pre-season, but Des Ridder has little game experience and could gain being on the field. Does the coach give him more looks in the pre-season or fearing injury do you keep him on the bench a lot in games that do not matter?
Bair: That's something we'll have to see play out, Geoffrey, but I think it's an interesting topic, so let's talk about it. In my experience, an established starting quarterback in a scheme he knows gets a preseason series or two, max.
This may be a situation where Desmond Ridder might get a few more, an old school stance of a little bit in the first game, a decent sum in the second game and virtually nothing in the finale.
Taylor Heinicke could benefit from time working in a new scheme, especially if he's not going to do much once the regular season starts.
It's all ultimately up to head coach Arthur Smith and what he has seen from Ridder in training camp and preseason practices. If Ridder looks locked in, especially in joint practices versus Miami, don't risk it. Also, if Ridder's going to play, the first unit offensive line needs to play with him. That's another risk assessment right there.
So, in sum, I don't have a great answer other than to say you've got to feel it out. If Ridder shows great command and good throwing efficiency, put him on the shelf. If he needs seasoning, put him out there in measured amounts, get his work in and get him out.
Tarik Nicholas from Knoxville, Tenn.
Coach Smith has emphasized that there is a development plan in place for each player. Is this the summer we need to start seeing results from fringe roster players like Frank Darby, Dorian Etheridge, Feleipe Franks, Darren Hall, Nate Landman, and Jalen Mayfield ? These are mostly late round or undrafted players so it was never guaranteed they would have a significant impact on this roster. Are there any players you feel need to have a strong summer in order to make the team in August?
Bair: Good question, Tarik, as always. In short (and in general) I would say yes. The plan and the team vision is different for each player, but players need to start showing value in Year 3. That doesn't mean in a starting role. If could mean being a solid reserve or back-end, reliable injury protection. Heck, it could mean being a core special teams player.
The guys you mentioned are all in that category, meaning this summer will be key for each player you mentioned, especially if younger players show potential and promise if developed properly.
I generally don't like saying guys belong on the bubble in the spring, before we put pads on, but it is time to show value and production as folks enter Year 3. That's especially true at competitive positions like tight end, cornerback and receiver.
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in next weeks mailbags. And, if you have a discussion point you want on the agenda, please include it. Questions dip at points in the summer, and we want to keep this mailbag strong.