Welcome to Straight from the 'Beek! The Falcons are days away from playing their third game of the season – and this one is a biggie: against the hated team from Louisiana. In the meantime, you've got plenty of questions. So, let's get right to them. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.
Let's get rolling, shall we?
Dave from Augusta, GA
Hey, Beek! Thanks for putting up with the rollercoaster of emotions following the loss and the win. We appreciate how you keep up in the straight and narrow. At least I do, Beek. My question is about the Saints offense and how we'll deal with them without Deion Jones. He has made some really big plays against the Saints since joining the Falcons. I think we're going to miss his speed and experience in this game. What do you think, Beek?
Matt: Thanks, Dave. The flood of emotions is to be expected – and, quite frankly, that's what makes answering some of these questions so much fun for me. Plus, that's what being a fan is all about! To answer your question about Deion Jones, yes, there is no question the Falcons are going to miss Jones. I'm not going to sugarcoat that one bit. They'll definitely miss his speed and instincts when it comes to containing running back Alvin Kamara, one of the Saints' most dangerous weapons on offense. Kamara is a threat running the ball as well as coming out the backfield as a receiver. Jones can be a great neutralizer in that respect. He's also a factor in defending against the intermediate passing game in general – in dropping back in coverage, covering backs, tight ends and other crossing routes. The Falcons will rely heavily on Duke Riley this week to help fill the void. Remember, Riley missed time last season and he's still learning and developing. Maybe it's a stretch to say he's still a rookie in some ways, but you get the idea – there's still going to be growing pains here and there. Be patient. That said, the Falcons want Duke to be Duke – not Deion. If Riley can take advantage of his own skillsets – he's also very quick and aggressive – that's a win of sorts. Remember, Riley and linebacker De'Vondre Campbell led the team in tackles against the Panthers with nine each. That's extremely encouraging. They'll need similar production, if not more, from Riley this week. And in case you are wondering, Jones is expected to return some time around Week 10 (at the earliest).
Tookie from West Gardiner, ME
Why are all these other Falcon fans overreacting? We are two weeks into the 2018 season. Starters are still shaking the offseason rust off. Look, as a die-hard Falcons fan living in New England, I am constantly defending the brotherhood and I hate when I hear things like that offense sucks. Look, two seasons ago they had the best offense in the league and last year with an off year, Matt Ryan still had decent numbers. He is living up to his contract in my eyes. The last part of my rant is leave Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman alone. Both are great players and they are the heart and soul of this team not excluding Matty Ice. So, relax and watch us rise up. In brotherhood I stand.
Matt: Thanks for writing in and dropping a little perspective on your fellow Falcons fans, Tookie.
Jerry from Statesboro, GA
Hey Beek. I hate to say it, but I think the Beekers are being punished by the "Football gods." The Beekers complained all last season and it ticked off the Football gods. So, this year they took away Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Devonta Freeman, and now Andy Levitre. Takk McKinley seems to be nicked up, too. If we're gonna make it, our offense has to return to its 2016 form as it did on Sunday. Tevin Coleman has really come around in his expanded role. Man are we gonna hate to see him go. I feel good about Damontae Kazee filling in in the secondary, but I'm still concerned about our linebackers. Should we be worried or trust the system?
Matt: Hey, Jerry. Injuries are definitely part of the game and sometimes they come in waves. The Falcons have definitely been hit hard two games into the season, that's for sure. Worrying won't help you any and the system, as you put it, is the foundation of this team. So, trust it. That's my advice. This is why teams play those preseason games – to gauge that depth when they're filling out the 53-man roster. Trust those decisions. And this is why the Falcons drafted players like Foyesade Oluokun out of Yale – so trust in general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the scouting department and the pro personnel folks. They're scouring through the practice squads and evaluating free agents all the time, not just when players go down. So, yes, trust in the system while some of the guys mend and recover from their injuries. Oh, one more thing: This is a long season. There are 14 more games to go and a lot can – and will – happen for the Falcons and the other 31 teams. Let's see how things play out with Tevin Coleman, too. Don't write him off just yet (as far as leaving). Thanks, as always, for the question.
Bill from Richmond, IN
Hi, Matt. Thanks for keep the ship stable these last two weeks. I am really looking forward to one of the two best games of the year this week. I want your thoughts on Kemal Ishmael. Is Dan Quinn looking at him at all for the safety spot? Do you think Steve Sarkisian will feature Tevin Coleman in the passing game more against the Saints with Ito Smith emerging as a running threat?
Matt: Hi, Bill. I think you're going to see Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith much like they were against the Panthers. Do I think the Falcons will try to get Coleman the ball out in space (via short pass) if they particularly like a matchup? Absolutely. The game plan changes some from week to week because the personnel and matchups vary. As far as Kemal Ishmael goes, he's going to stay down in the box primarily. Hope that helps. Thanks for writing in.
Jason from Mechanicville, NY
Two weeks in a row and Matt Ryan has had issues with the knee brace as a result of him sliding. Does he need to wear this? It is very nice seeing him run the ball as an option!
Matt: I was talking to someone about this, Jason, and they said it happens to Matt Ryan "like five times a year, usually" so it is odd that it's happened twice in the first two weeks. Ryan has always worn the brace and will continue to, I'm told. I was concerned that it might break and cause a more serious injury (knock on wood that it doesn't), but that doesn't seem to be a concern with it. And yes, it's good to see Ryan tucking it in and running for the extra yardage (and two scores a week ago). Thanks for the question.
Donnie from Cumming, GA
Hi Beek! I am a transplant to the Atlanta area like so many Atlantans. I have two questions. 1.) Do the Falcons have a recommended process for a fan to go thru to switch their loyalties? I would think this could get some people like myself to get over the guilt of abandoning the team they grew up with and onto supporting their new home team the Falcons? 2.) How can we get Matt Ryan to start changing up his cadence at the line of scrimmage? It seems as though teams are doing a great job of timing the snaps, because it doesn't seem like he is trying to get defenses to jump offsides enough. Thanks!
Matt: Donnie, lose the guilt, grab some Falcons gear and jump right in – your new fellow Falcons fans will embrace you with open arms! Obviously, the best way to feel as close to the team as possible is to attend the games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. I've been to a lot of different stadiums, but there's nothing quite like the home of the Falcons. And this is a team that's built to win for the foreseeable future – so you're joining the flock at just the right time. Regarding your second question, some teams pick up on the timing of the snaps sometimes – or just guess well. If the Falcons thought it was a real issue, I'm sure they'd change the cadence or even go to a hard count to draw teams offside. I didn't see it as a real issue in the Panthers game, but I'll keep my eyes on it moving forward. Thanks for writing in, Donnie!
Jon from Macon, GA
Yo, Beek. Do you know what uniforms the Falcons will be wearing this week against the Saints?
Matt: I'm almost certain the Falcons will be wearing their traditional red jerseys and white pants for the Saints game. I asked about the uniform schedule for 2018 and hope to share that with you guys on Thursday. And your question makes for a terrific Straight from the 'Beek poll question, Jon.
Roy from Lincolnton, GA
Beek! WHAT A GAME. You told everyone to stay calm after preseason and first-game loss. Well, I did exactly that and, in my honest opinion, it made the win over the Panthers all that much better! My main concern is Vic Beasley. I know there are a lot more balls to be snapped and tackles to be made, but Vic seems to be moving slow and undersized for his position. Your thoughts? I want to be positive and say he's like a diesel engine meaning, he's slow to start, but once warmed up, can run at high speed and perform at top quality for a LONG time. Our fellow Takk McKinely really showed some good things Sunday, especially the grip-and-rip sack he put on Cam Newton. Hopefully he can introduce Drew Brees to that move! Keep on keeping on Beek and as always RISE UP!!!
Matt: Hey there, Roy. I get accused of being a homer a lot – and I'm really not. I've covered a lot of games and have been doing this sort of thing for a while now, and I just don't overreact after one or two games, is all. Especially when 19 of 22 starters returned from a team that made it into the postseason the last two seasons. So, yeah, some fans need to chill out and relax some. Same goes with injuries. Every team has to deal with them. Some have to deal with suspensions, too. That's why it's a waste of time to project beyond this week's game – because so much changes around the league. The Falcons are definitely dealing with some injuries while playing a challenging schedule – remember, four of their first five opponents were playoff teams a year ago. The one team that wasn't – the Bengals – just happen to be 2-0 and playing really well, too. Don't be concerned about Vic Beasley yet. Sure, his stats aren't gaudy after two games, but part of that is how the Falcons are using him in certain situations. Let's tap the brakes on that one and not go into an all-out tizzy over Beasley just yet. Let's see where he after the Redskins game on Nov. 4.