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Questions about Matt Ryan, squeaking into the playoffs at 8-8, Steve Sarkisian, Kareem Hunt, more

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Welcome to Straight from the ’Beek! The Falcons look to turn things around – a snap a four-game skid –with a big win up at Lambeau Field this week and you’ve got plenty of questions in the meantime. So, let’s get right to them. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.

And away we go.

Kim from Lithonia, GA
Hi, Beek. My question is concerning our quarterback. We need a quarterback that is not timid to make plays. We have acknowledged the fact that we lack on both the offensive and defensive lines, if we had a playmaking quarterback, we definitely would have more wins. Please share your opinion.

Matt: Hi, Kim. I think the quarterback position is just fine and he’s not timid. Give Matt Ryan a second or two longer to stand in that pocket to make some throws or open some running lanes for Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith and it’s a totally different situation. But right now the Falcons are struggling to do both.

Justin from Flowery Branch, GA
Beek, what’s up man. Writing in again after a very sad month. I’m pretty bummed out at this point. The season flies by and it’s a lifetime before it comes back. I love this team. I’d say I’m a die-hard fan, just an NFL die hard in general – watching every team, every game. It’s tough for me and probably a lot of fans to accept what’s going on and just say, “alright, next season we will have our defense back, we’ll get great draft picks and it’ll be our year!” So what I’m getting at, even if people will call me crazy – the season still isn’t over. The way the Panthers are playing, with two games against the Saints to go, plus one with us as well, and some of the other matchups/injuries in the NFC, I don’t think it’s crazy to think the sixth seed could be an 8-8 team. I know you said we should stop talking about playoffs but until we’re actually eliminated, I think we should have hope, we should have something to keep us going, as fans and for the team. We’ve had some bad games along with too many injuries but with Deion Jones back going into his second game back against a Packers team (who just fired their coach and are right about where we are) some adjustments and the last four matchups we have – it’s not crazy to me. I want to win our last four games and see what happens! What do you think? Am I crazy or is this a real possibility winning out and some luck on our side? (My father in-law who has been a fan for over 30 years tells me I’m a young naive Falcons fan but loves my attitude. haha) Thanks, Beek!

Matt: Technically, you’re not wrong, Justin. The Falcons have not been mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. But right now the odds are stacked against them. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 1 percent chance of making the playoffs at the moment. But to your point, there are some scenarios where the Falcons would make the playoffs at 8-8 (you can play them out here with ESPN’s Playoff Machine), but the Falcons would have to win four straight and get some help along the way. The Falcons have only won once on the road all season long and play three of their next four away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Plus they haven’t won more than three in a row all season long. Can they pull it off? Stay tuned. The point of my column, by the way, was to cool the playoff talk until some bigger issues are addressed. If the Falcons can’t run or protect their quarterback, they can’t win. Period.

John from Vermillion, SD
Steve Sarkisian has been given a lot of rope over the past two years. When do you think it’s time to pull the plug or do you think more time is worthwhile? Personally, I do see that he is down two starting guards but after Sunday I think it is time to give Gregg Knapp an audition, as he has plenty of experience with this offense. Thanks, Beek! Look forward to hearing your candor.

Matt: I don’t think it matters who is calling the plays, John, so I’m going to politely disagree with you there. When you can’t run the ball you become one-dimensional. And when you can’t protect the quarterback in passing situations or downs, you’re simply not going to be very successful over the long haul. That’s what is playing out right now. Falcons coach Dan Quinn knows as well as anyone what’s happening, but you can only do so much with the personnel you have at this point of the season. And let’s give some credit to the Ravens, Saints and Cowboys defensive units here, too. Those are some pretty good defenses they’ve faced. That’s a big part of it, too.

Shaun from Allenhurst, GA
What's going on, Beek. I said it once and I'll say it again. Vic Beasley needs to go. He has been nonexistent since his breakout second season. That's unacceptable for a former eighth-overall pick. Robert Alford needs to go as well. I know we should be positive, Beek, but that's the truth.

Matt: OK, Shaun. I hear you loud and clear. But every single time someone tells me that, my immediate response is, “Who are you going to replace them with?” If it’s not an upgrade, then you shouldn’t make the move.

James from Covington, GA
BEEK! Have the Falcons FINALLY submitted a new uniform request to the league? Asking for a friend.

Matt: Hey there, James. Not that I’m aware of. I’ll double-check that one, too. As soon as I hear something official, I’ll be sure to pass it on here.

Conrad from Shreveport, LA
Dr. Beek, I don't have a question; I have a statement. I'm from Shreveport, Louisiana, and I've been here my entire life thus far. I've been a Falcons fan since 1990 with Deion, Andre Rison, Michael Haynes, Brian Jordan, Scott Case, and the Jesse Tuggle days. It's so heart-wrenching when our fan base is so some-timing (wishy-washy). We have some fans or so-called fans that are not loyal at all. We need a column for the REAL loyal fans, the fans that will stand with the BirdGang through the good and bad, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn't entertain all of these fans that want to jump ship, let them leave and we don't want them back when we began to ball out. We've had plenty of injuries that cost us games, yet we still manage to be in certain games until the end. With that formula, to me says that our team is solid and if those starters or injured players were there, the outcome would be a lot different. We just need to add some better pieces to our team and we'll stand the test. We shouldn't trade our main pieces because some of our so-called fans aren't happy with the way our season has went. Injuries are part of the game, and we just got that bug this season. I'm forever loyal to my Falcons and it's BirdGang over everything. I'm going to continue to rep my Falcons from Louisiana, and wherever else I go. Falcons 4 Life!!!! P.S. I Hate the Saints and 49ers from the 1990's (NFC West Days).

Matt: Thanks for the title change, Conrad – I do feel like a psychiatrist here some days! First, it’s always cool to hear from fans in different places, especially ones in enemy territory. Big props to you for representing the Red and Black in Saints country. As far as SFTB goes, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns here – being a fan has its ups and downs, and it’s certainly reflected here. I don’t mind it when fans are frustrated or mad – it’s their right to be upset. And when the Falcons win, they’re as excited as can be. You should read my inbox after wins vs. following losses. That said, I think a lot of fans – most fans, in fact – don’t ever write in but they’ll read. I think when something really irks them or excites them, they’ll finally send me a note – and I’m fine with all of it. Just don’t make it personal with the coaches or players or write vicious things (I’ve been called some appalling things, but I’ll never give them the satisfaction of publishing it). We keep it real here in Straight from the Beek. Readers don’t always like that I stick with the facts, history or logic … but that’s how it goes. Thanks for writing in!

Jeremy from Calhoun, GA
Hey Beek! I’ll make it quick. Any chance the Falcons sign Kareem Hunt? I think he is talented and if he takes the appropriate course of action in treatment, he should be given another chance. We don’t know the full story, but I think he will learn and grow into a better person. Plus, I think we can get him cheap. He would make this offense unstoppable. What’s your take?

Matt: I’ve received several questions about Kareem Hunt and here’s my take. This isn’t about football anymore, folks. It’s not about what kind of running back he is anymore; it’s about what kind of person he is and what he brings to a locker room and community. Right now, Hunt needs to focus on his legal matters and cleaning up his act. He admitted that he’s made some serious mistakes during a recent interview. Now it’s time for him to face some things and be accountable for his actions. Hunt’s former team, the Kansas City Chiefs, released him because he lied to them. That’s not a good look, either. He cleared waivers, too, meaning not a single team wanted him right now. That should tell you something as well. Hunt has a lot of work to do before he ever steps on a football field again – and that’s if another team is willing to give him a chance. Right now it doesn’t look like it but maybe that will change in time.

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