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Straight from the 'Beek

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Questions about Duke Riley, Falcons' killer instinct and empty seats


Editor's note: Today's edition will be updated later on this afternoon with more questions, so please check back.

Good morning and welcome to Straight from the 'Beek! We're into the Falcons' bye week and you've got questions. Just remember that all opinions you see in this space are mine, unless otherwise noted.

And we're off.

Larry from Hampton, GA

If you had success running the football and it's fourth-and-1, isn't it a no-brainer to run the football and get the first down? You say that you have to rely or trust the coach's decision. As you see it didn't work out in the Super Bowl as well as this game. Still trusting the coach's decision?

Matt: Yes, I am, Larry. You can't judge a coach on one play.

Julian from Los Angeles, CA

Hey Matt, love your column and your insights. Thanks for doing this. I do have a question, but first I have a comment. I knew someone was going to come on here on Monday and talk about Julio Jones always being hurt. My Steelers fan friends tell me that's why Antonio Brown is better than Julio Jones, but he's not. No. 11 is the best WR in the NFL. Injuries, especially to wide receivers, happen. The Falcons didn't lose that game because 11 got hurt. Which leads me to my question. Besides turnovers, what else do you think the Falcons need to do better when they come back after their bye to get better? A 3-1 record is good but they could easily be 1-3 or 2-2 right now. They have to start playing better.

Matt: Julian, they have to get healthy. By the end of Sunday's game, a total of eight players were out because of various injuries. Aside from turning the ball over and creating more turnovers, the Falcons need to start tackling better, too. There were a lot of missed tackles. You might as well throw in catching the ball, too. For whatever reasons, there have been a lot of tipped and deflected balls by the receivers – and some of those have led to turnovers. The good news is that everything I just mentioned is correctable. And the bye week could not be coming at a better time.

Jerry from Cuthbert, GA

Did you notice that Duke Riley is looking confused and missing a lot of tackles? Looks like he's in over his head. Thanks for the ear. 

Matt: Hey, Jerry. You've got to remember Duke Riley is a first-year player and every game is on-the-job training for him. The good news is that he has lots of speed, plays fast and puts himself in position to make plays more times than not. Yes, he's missed some tackles, but like I noted above, that's correctable – and he'll only get better in time.

Hayse from Nashville, TN

Hey Beek, I've been a fan all my life and a season ticket holder since Vick's rookie year. I drive down from Nashville for the games and, for years, I flew in from Utah. I say this to establish some fan credibility before I ask this question. So, my question is, what do we have to do to A) Get our fans to the games? B) Get to their seats on time? I've never consistently seen so many empty seats over the years and it seems like it takes an NFC championship to get the house packed. It's just frustrating to me to see the support that Atlanta United is getting and the Falcons (and Braves) games barely seem half full. It's embarrassing and needs to stop!

Matt: Thanks for the question and the Falcons are lucky to have to loyal fans like you. I'll be very honest here – I have no idea what's going on with the fans – and I find it surprising, especially coming into Sunday's game with a 3-0 mark. But one reader (below) offers at least one reason why, Hayse.

Rob from Canton, GA

I have been following the Falcons for many years, watching players such as Jeff Van Note, Steve Bartkowski, etc., In watching the Falcons I have never noticed a killer instinct with them, like other teams. For example, the Super Bowl last year, it looked like the team and coaches thought to themselves that we had it wrapped up. New England wanted it worse than us. What is it going to take to get this Falcons team with a never-let-down attitude? Also, I can give you one reason why the seats are empty. People like me who had season tickets for over 50 years never saw our Falcons win a Super Bowl, and I will not get season tickets again until they really want to play and never quit, for both the team and coaches. They all need to look at themselves and ask the simple question, am I really playing or coaching to the best of my ability? Just an old man venting!

Matt: Thanks for reading and thank for your comment, Rob. I will add that this team really cares about each other, plays hard and wants to win – I don't see any quit in them. And I don't think they let up at the end of games, like many have suggested here. They do have to solve the turnovers issue – and soon.

Stan from Las Vegas, NV

After what happened in Las Vegas on Sunday night, it is hard to be upset with my Falcons over a loss. Here is my question do you feel the turf area at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is too hard or so different than the Georgia Dome as to cause all the sudden rash of injuries. I know they are a part of the sport, but we have played two games and have seven players injured, this just seems above the normal amount. Thanks for all you do keep up the good work.

Matt: Amen to that, Stan. Thanks for your perspective here. To your question, I honestly don't think it's the surface. If you look around the league, players are injured in every single game. The Falcons are fortunate that no one has suffered any season-ending injuries. Let's see how this plays out before we start drawing those types of conclusions.

Aaron from Americus, GA

Hi, I'm a true fan, love the Falcons. I am concerned that Matt Ryan is throwing these games.

Matt: C'mon, Aaron. Really?

Rob from Ellenwood

Hey, Matt. Thanks for your insights, it's really appreciated. I noticed you are a staunch defender of Matt Ryan's play. Well, I filled one of those empty seats as a season ticket holder and enjoyed the game and effort by both teams. Let's tell it like it is. That young quarterback from Buffalo made "Matty Ice" look like a frozen high school quarterback. It's time for Matt Ryan to start living up to that $98 million-dollar contract with consistency. His passes were not accurate on a professional level. Atlanta needs good backup quarterback like Colin Kaepernick. He would have won that game. Atlanta needs to pick up Kap now. No more denial of Matty Ice's inconsistent performance. Your opinion is anticipated and appreciated.

Matt: Hey, Rob. Thanks for reading. Check the terms on that contract again. I'm really just a staunch defender of the facts and I answer questions here honestly. So, to be clear, you're saying Tyrod Taylor outplayed Matt Ryan on Sunday and that Colin Kaepernick would have been a better option – that "he would have won that game." Wow. And I'll totally disagree with you. Forget if you can for a minute that we're talking about last year's league MVP and the record-setting year he had in leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Did you have a problem with Matt Ryan and his accuracy in Week 1 when completed 70 percent of his passes for 321 yards in a win? Did you have a problem with Ryan in Week 2, when he completed 68 percent of his passes for 252 yards in a huge win over the Packers? Did you have a problem with Ryan in Week 3 when he completed 69 percent of his passes for 294 yards? He did have one bad throws against the Lions and two other passes were tipped by his receivers, resulting in interceptions. Are you blaming him for those? And how about this past week? You're throwing in the towel after the Bills game? Really? One pass was tipped. Another pass he threw up to his receiver on a deep ball and the defender made a better play on the ball. Despite all of that – the miscues and injuries, Ryan still led the Falcons down the field with a chance to win the game at the end. That's all that matters in the end, right? Wins. The Falcons are 3-1. If Kaepernick can still play and is that good, why is someone who plays the hardest and most important position on a football team still on the street? The coaches know and trust Matt Schaub, by the way, and that matters a lot.

Chris from Fresno, CA

Hey Matt! I appreciate you answering questions and being a part of our mornings. We are a special team, don't you think? Every team wants to win. Everyone loves playing football, but it's not what you do, it's how you do it. I've never seen such a humble team like us. Coach Q really brought something here that we should talk more about. And that's our Brotherhood. I think we have the tightest group here. Everyone is playing and working hard for each other. Nobody points fingers or plays the blaming game, but instead they encourage and show love to one another. It's not just a motto, it's life too, you know. This is the little thing that I wanted to stress out because, it's REAL. How REAL is our Brotherhood? Can you share any proof of it that you've seen/witnessed?

Matt: Thanks for your comments, Chris. Glad you're enjoying this space, too. There's no question that this team is tight and plays for each other. And you're right in that you never see any finger pointing or guys throwing each other under the proverbial bus. Everyone is accountable and no one wants to let anyone down – from the players to the scouts to the coaches to all of the support staff. Every team will have its ups and downs throughout the course of a season – injuries, wins and losses – and that closeness will serve this team well in the long run. HAVE A QUESTION?

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