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Bair Mail: Who steps up in Calvin Ridley's absence, NFL trade deadline and Russell Gage

Your questions get answers in Monday's mailbag


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said Monday that, if you lose on both lines of scrimmage, odds are great you're going to lose a game.

He ain't wrong.

See Sunday as Exhibit A.

The Carolina Panthers created the space required to run all over the Falcons defense. The Falcons offensive line couldn't protect Matt Ryan well enough, nor could they stay on schedule moving on the ground.


That leads to the 19-13 result we all witnessed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Falcons must fix things fast in preparation for a two-game road swing against New Orleans and Dallas.

You all acknowledge that point, which was evident in the postgame mailbag. You also want to talk about the upcoming NFL trade deadline and how the Falcons can make up for Calvin Ridley being unavailable due to a personal matter.

We'll get into all that right here, right now, in Monday's Bair Mail:

Rosalyn Little from Atlanta

Calvin Ridley is out indefinitely. Does that mean he can be absent the whole season? How will the Falcons adjust to his absence? Will they pick up another WR before the deadline?

Bair: Calvin Ridley will miss an indeterminate amount of time dealing with a personal matter, so the exact length of his absence is up in the air. I'll refer you to his statement on the matter, which he released on Sunday afternoon.

Losing him hurts the football product. That's a secondary concern compared to what he's handling, but it's still a topic for the Falcons as we move forward. They'll need another receiver to step up with increased targets and snaps. That looks like Tajae Sharpe, who started for Ridley and led the team in receiving.

They'll need a bit more from everyone, not just Kyle Pitts, to keep the offense moving well. Hayden Hurst and Russell Gage need to be more active players in the passing game, either taking advantage of the attention paid to Pitts or forcing defenses to distribute coverage more easily.

Buc Maull from Morrow, Ga.

Do you think we'll be buyers or sellers by the NFL trade deadline? Also, in your opinion what would be the pros and cons of both?

Bair: In my opinion, I think they'll be neither. I think they could end up not making a move at all before the Nov. 2 NFL trade deadline.

If they do make a move, I'd bet they'll be sellers. If I've said it once, I've said it 2 ka-billion times: draft assets are solid gold bullion for teams, like the Falcons, in transition. Giving them away for a quick fix doesn't seem to align with their current objectives, which is to win as much as possible without sacrificing the ability to do so in the future.

In order to do so in the future, the Falcons need depth and top-tier talent while working out of salary-cap trouble. The easiest way to do that: through the draft. With picks you own and acquire. Not by giving them away, unless you do so for a controllable asset.

Jacob Schonberger from New Haven, Conn.

Where was Russell Gage all game? With Ridley out and Pitts getting all the defensive attention he failed to get a single reception.

Bair: It was surprising, Jacob to see Russell Gage end the game without a target. That was especially true with Ridley out and Gilmore frequently on Kyle Pitts. Quarterback Matt Ryan said the game just goes away from certain players sometimes. From my experience covering Ryan, he isn't one to force things.

Smith also addressed the issue in his Monday press conference. Here's what he had to say:

"A lot of times it's the coverage, and he has to do his job, too," Smith said. "He has to get open. If you want to be a high-volume drop back team and lose a lot of games and pad some stats, okay, great. I have faith in Russell. There are some things we all have to do better. Everybody on offense, you have to execute better than we did yesterday."

Call for questions

Let's fill the mailbag back up for Wednesday's Bair Mail, when we'll turn the page toward RIVALRY WEEK. Get amped. And then submit your questions 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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