Welcome to Straight from the 'Beek! The Falcons are coming off their bye week, getting ready for the Dolphins to come to town and you've got questions. Just remember that all opinions you see in this space are mine, unless otherwise noted.
And we're off.
Bobby from Dayton, OH
These games have been too close for comfort so far this year, especially the Chicago game. What happened to the huge scoring offense? I'm worried this year. As much as I love our birds, something other than the injuries, just isn't right and I can't put my finger on it. Also, this is the first time I've ever read any of these comments. I didn't even know that this site existed until 8:30 p.m. eastern time! lol But I do love it. Keep up the good work!
Matt: Do yourself a favor and just look at the scores and standings – and go back and look through the first four-five games of the season. The main takeaway is that it's not easy to win in this league – so, as a Falcons fan, you should be thrilled to be sitting at 3-1. And despite all the injuries and turnovers, Atlanta is this close to being unbeaten (I know, I know … I hear some of you now. Yes, and the Falcons are that close to being 1-3, too.) The offense has looked very good at times, especially once that run game gets going – so don't worry about that. And we should learn a lot about the overall health of the team this week heading into the Dolphins game on Sunday. And thanks for reading, Bobby. I'm so glad you've discovered our site. Now go tell all your Falcons friends about all the great content we're generating!
Tyler from Chanhassen, MN
Beeeeeek! I have to say I've really grown fond of these Q&A's and I hope that you keep these going for the foreseeable future. Anyways, I've been a die-hard Falcons fan my entire life and unfortunately my brother is a die-hard Panthers fan (you can imagine the hours we've spent throughout our lives arguing about who's better). I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Carolina Panthers and if you believe that the Panthers are the biggest threat in the division.
Matt: Hey, Tyler. Well, it's all about wins and losses in the regular season and I'd say both teams are off to a strong start – the Panthers are sitting at 4-1 atop the division and the Falcons are 3-1 and coming off their bye week. Like every team in the league, both have had to deal with some issues – the Falcons have been hit hard by injuries (and the timing of the bye week couldn't have been better). As far as the Panthers being the biggest threat goes, I'd say it's too early to tell. Remember, Carolina's one loss was in the division to the Saints. I'm still trying to figure out the identities of a lot of teams right now – it's been so up and down from week to week throughout the league. Just look at Buffalo. A week after coming into Mercedes-Benz Stadium and knocking off the Falcons, the Bills go to Cincinnati and lose to the Bengals. And look at Jacksonville – talk about a hot-and-cold team from week to week.
Jerry from Williamson, GA
After four games, the Falcons defense is ranked 23rd by Football Outsiders. I thought they were supposed to be much improved. What happened?
Matt: Jerry, four games is not a large enough sample size in my opinion to gauge whether the defense has improved. That said, injuries and an inability to create turnovers have been two of the bigger storylines with this unit through four games – not where they rank overall. I think by Oct. 29 – Week 8 – you'll have a much better idea of whether or not they've improved.
Jared from Pittsburgh, PA
Is it different for the team to be playing in the new stadium rather than the Georgia Dome? Big fan from Steeler country!
Matt: I'm sure if you ask the players, they'll tell you they'd play in a parking lot of they had to. But in all seriousness, sure it's different. Every stadium is different – from the sight lines to the type of surface to the lighting (depending on the time of day) and whether it's open versus a dome. And some stadiums are obviously louder than others, too.
Kelvin from Smyrna, GA
OK, I often read where fans write about being life-long fans and die-heard fans, but they are the first to jump ship are preach doom and gloom. Well Beek, I have been with this team from the age of 10, and I know the good, bad, high and lows. I know 5,000 fans in a stadium on a given Sunday. I know 70,000-plus for 47-plus years. I've rode with my Falcons and I will for 47 more. All these armchair quarterbacks Beek, who have never played the game nor understand the true meaning of the struggle to be great – where more than likely the same ones who, if you asked, would have a second team, what are your thoughts and, like me, do you understand also that the weakest links make the most noise? Just saying.
Matt: Kelvin, the Falcons – and any team for that matter – should have more fans like you. They're lucky to have you. I think everyone has the right to voice their opinions – that's what this space is all about, after all. But I do think that some of the knee-jerk reactions after the first few games of the season were over the top, especially when the Falcons were still unbeaten. And I'm no apologist or homer, believe me, but I won't sit here and agree with anyone who thinks Matt Ryan should be benched or that Colin Kaepernick would be a better solution under center. Crazy talk, but I get a kick out of it at the same time. Thanks for reading!
Steven from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England
Hey, don't you just love the black shirts and the old bird on the helmets?
Matt: Hey, Steven. I do like the old logo – and dig the look. But I don't think the Falcons played very well against the Bills wearing them. So I'm ready for the traditional red-and-whites.
Joey from Jonesboro, GA
I was wondering as to how you thought the upcoming draft for the Falcons will go as far as the first pick is concerned. I think either the Falcons select a defensive tackle (the most likely scenario) to replace Donatri Poe due to his price tag. Or do they, as I hope, select Matt Ryan's heir at quarterback with a selection of say a Luke Falk from Washington State? I think that he might still be on the board when the Falcons make their first selection and this draft is saturated with quality QBs. I'm not sure that will be the case in 2019. This is not to say that Ryan isn't a good quarterback, but I don't think he is worth the money north of Stafford's contract with Detroit that it will take to re-sign him and that is a big chunk of change that could be used to sign other free agents. Looking forward to hearing your answer. Love the column and keep up the good work.
Matt: If you know me, I love the NFL Draft. And I love watching college football – and all of the top prospects. But it's still too early to talk mock drafts for me – mainly because we have no idea where teams will be picking yet. To be honest, I haven't watched a lot of Luke Falk's games yet this year. That said, I will give you this much – I always like it when teams pick a quarterback because it's too valuable of a position. Same with pass-rushers – you can't have enough good ones there, either. I think Matt Ryan has a lot of good football left in him and I think the Falcons will have more pressing areas to address come April.
Alan from Athens, GA
Enjoying this forum. One observation. A year ago, the Falcons were allowing about 30 points per game and only winning by outscoring the other team. Nobody would have predicted a Super Bowl appearance. This year, folks are acting as if the Super Bowl is something we deserve and we should be whipping everybody. Falcons fans are not used to this rare air.
Matt: Yes, the expectations are extremely high for the 2017 Falcons. And I get it. The Falcons have only been to two Super Bowls – last year's Super Bowl LI and in 1999, Super Bowl XXXIII. They lost both and this fan base is starving for another chance to get back there and come away with a different result – and this team is perhaps the best one they've ever fielded. So, there's nothing wrong with expecting to win, especially when you know the team is talented, loaded and built to win now. That said, wins are tough to come by and not all of them are pretty. Take 'em any way you can get 'em – and, yes, some fans forget that sometimes.
Randy from Ashville, AL
First of all, I've been a Falcons fan since 1966. I used to sneak into the old Fulton County Stadium when I was a kid to watch the Falcons and whomever they were playing. I was there when Tommy Nobis got hurt. But my question is, have any of the Falcons ever been in the military? I personally like the fact that most of the Falcons stand for the National Anthem.
Matt: Hey, Randy. Thanks for writing. Nobis was a great player – and I do remember that old stadium, too, that doubled as a baseball field. As far as any current players having served in the military goes, I'd have to say the two players who come to mind are Ben Garland, who attended the Air Force Academy, and Andre Roberts because he attended The Citadel. It's not one of the service academies like West Point, the Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy, but it is a military school in Charleston, S.C., as you probably know. Hope that helps. The Falcons also had another player in here during training camp who also played at The Citadel, fullback Tyler Renew.
Quinton from Ashburn, GA
Hey, Matt. I just wanted to say that I enjoy reading what you have to say on the Falcons and I agree with them wholly. I am a huge fan and I always will be. The question I have however is regarding Matt Ryan. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Matt Ryan and I agree whenever it is said that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I mean, look at his stats and what he does. Anyone who says he is not a great quarterback can't know the game of football then, right? My only thing is just that I think people don't see Matt Ryan for what he is because he just doesn't have the personality like say, an Aaron Rodgers or a Tom Brady. I mean, no matter what stadium they step in, any team facing them fears them. They're intimidating. Freakishly aggressive. Angry. Again, not taking anything away from Matt Ryan, I love him. But I just want to see that same look he had in his eyes on that Gatorade commercial all the time. It was something you usually didn't see from him, and I loved it. Do you think that maybe if he revealed his anger and aggression like that more so on the field than he does now it would help the Falcons become an even better and more powerful team, or do you think that he's fine just the way he is? Whatever you say, I'll take in stride. I could just be looking at it all from the wrong perspective, so …
Matt: I understand where you're coming from, Quinton, but I'm just fine with Matt Ryan's demeanor. Every guy is different and some are a little more demonstrative than others. Ryan's not an in-your-face kind of guy on the field but that doesn't mean he doesn't have high expectations and doesn't hold his teammates accountable. Some guys keep that stuff in-house. I think Troy Aikman was that way as a player – you didn't see him show a ton of emotion and if he was ever in a guy's face, it was usually because of a mistake. I think Matthew Stafford is that way, too. So, no, I wouldn't be concerned at all.