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Bair Mail: On Kentavius Street, Grady Jarrett, Desmond Ridder and special teams issues

The Falcons quarterback situation is obviously a hot topic heading into Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

The NFL trade deadline is behind us, with the ending of such transactions coming on Tuesday afternoon. While the Falcons didn't make a close on the final day, they made two in-season deals recently.

Receiver Van Jefferson came from the Rams and defensive lineman Kentavius Street was acquired from the Eagles shortly after the Falcons lost Grady Jarrett for the season with a knee injury.

Those moves shored up depth at weaker spots and could help the Falcons as they enter the halfway point in the season on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

They acquired Josh Dobbs from the Cardinals after Kirk Cousins was lost to an Achilles tendon tear. Minnesota head coach Kevin O'Connell said he's preparing Jarren Hall to start, and it's possible Dobbs could be ready to play.

We'll get into this Vikings matchup, especially with how Jarrett's injury and the team's quarterback situation will impact it.

Spanky Smith from San Diego, Calif.

With Grady going down, we gotta go after a real DL or Edge by the trade deadline. There's still hope. Thoughts?

Bair: A few notes on this question before I answer. This was submitted before the Falcons traded for Kentavius Street on Monday afternoon; it's not like Mr. Smith didn't know about the deal when writing. The submission also addressed a bunch of different topics, but I trimmed it down some to focus on a defensive-line situation I'd like to address.

First, the tough part. Grady Jarrett suffered a season-ending knee injury early in Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans on a play without dramatic contact. It's a significant blow to the Falcons defense because, as we all know, Jarrett was the heart and soul of this defense.

I don't claim to be friends with Grady but I have interacted with him enough to know Jarrett cares so much about the game and puts maximum effort into his work. That's why the bad news was tough to hear. His presence on the field and in the building can be felt whenever he's in the room. That's why the loss extends beyond the talent no longer available to the Falcons defense.

All that said, the season doesn't stop and won't even slow to process this unwelcome development. That's why the Falcons immediately added experienced depth to the defensive line by adding Street in a Monday trade with Philadelphia.

Street has experience playing with defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen in New Orleans last year, when Nielsen was co-DC and defensive line coach. He knows the concepts and techniques that Nielsen likes to use, which should ease his transition. He has presumably worked with David Onyemata before and is familiar with his style, which should help him function on the defensive interior.

We don't know where he'll fit into the Falcons hockey-esque line rotation in the short-and longer-term, but it's a good get. While he was stuck behind prominent interior linemen in Philly, he played well at times in San Francisco and had 3.5 sacks as a reserve working with Nielsen in New Orleans.

It'll be an unknown who fills in for Jarrett, but, the Falcons used LaCale London in his spot on early downs and moved Calais Campbell inside in passing situations, with Lorenzo Carter off the edge against the Titans.

Bill Whitten from Killen, Ala.

Scott, as badly as Ridder played Sunday he's got to be the starter against Minnesota. He's either the future for the Falcons or he's not. They need to find out. What say you?

Bair: Hey, Bill, always appreciate the questions. I don't think he has to be the starter versus the Vikings while agreeing with your point that they need more evidence to find out if he's the long-term solution.

Arthur Smith was very deliberate in his Monday presser to say that, on Wednesday (possibly before someone reads this) he's naming a starter to play Minnesota, not for the season. That leaves a window open for Taylor Heinicke to start on Sunday while allowing Ridder to return when he's fully right. It also allows the staff to see what Heinicke does with a full week's prep.

And while you need to see more of Ridder to know if he's the guy – Heinicke has been around long enough to where you know what you're going to get from him – you also need to put yourself in position to win games. The Falcons are the NFC South's first-place team and want to stay that way. Smith talks a ton about short-term goals and long-term visions. This is a tough situation to try and juggle both, but the Falcons have done a good job with these situations before. It'll be interesting to see how they handle this one.

John Steele from Milton, Ga.

How can we fair catch 3 kicks inside our own 10 including one on the 2 yard line?

Bair: Those decisions were unadvisable, John, something I'm sure special teams coordinator Marquice Williams would agree with. Tennessee punter Ryan Stonehouse was excellent that day, but the Falcons made things worse with the incidents you mentioned.

Each situation is different, but I would consider it generally acceptable practice to let those punts see if they can find the end zone. Keith Smith could've fair-caught that kickoff and still gotten a touchback, too, but those things are easy to analyze without the surprise of a ball unexpectedly coming one's way with the adrenaline pumping.

The Falcons are a generally disciplined and impactful special teams unit, but some issues have popped up within the last three weeks. Here's what Arthur Smith had to say about it on Monday.

"You're talking about coaching, players, everything," Smith said. "Certainly, that was a consistent issue yesterday in the return game. We can't let that be a trend going forward. That has to get fixed because it's going to make life hard."

Call for questions

Submit your questions right here for inclusion in the next Bair Mail edition.

Take a monochrome look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tennessee Titans during Week 8.

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