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Falcons mailbag, Week 3: You asked, we answered

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Hello friends, and welcome to the Week 3 edition of The Falcoholic’s mailbag. As the Falcons prepare to take on the Lions on the road this week, we’re prepared to answer your questions about the team so far in the 2023 season.

Let’s dive right in with a question from Mozzie_71:

What the hell is wrong with Koo?.. Mr Automatic is far less automatic this year. Maybe he needs his number back?

This was a question that showed up quite a bit in my Twitter mentions on Sunday, too, and I think it’s a testament to just how automatic Koo has been.

His stats this season are solid: Against the Panthers, he was one for one on field goals with a 49-yarder, and was three for three on PAT attempts. In Week 2 against the Packers, he hit all four of his four field goal attempts and missed one of his two PAT attempts.

Now he was shaky early in preseason, missing two of three PAT attempts in the opener. But preseason is preseason. Since the games started counting, he looks to be back to form. So my answer is, I don’t think anything’s wrong with him. Sometimes kickers just miss, but Koo will be fine.

From FalconsFanMainer:

What's your favorite Falcons uniform, Jeanna, and who is your all-time favorite Falcon?

You somehow managed to combine the easiest and the hardest questions imaginable into one comment! Let’s start with the easiest: My favorite Falcons uniform is the black throwback jerseys and red helmets with the white pants:

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

On to the harder question: Who’s my favorite Falcon? This is like choosing which child or dog is my favorite. I’m going to give you a top 5 in no particular order:

  • Mike Kenn (y’all know how I feel about the offensive line)
  • Roddy White (he was by far my favorite Falcon to cover; some reasons why here and here)
  • William Moore (aka Willy Mo, aka WAR, Willy Mo Always Ready)
  • Matt Ryan
  • Julio Jones

But that list leaves no room for guys like Todd McClure, Fightin’ Joe Hawley, Jessie Tuggle, Grady Jarrett, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, the most hated man in the NFL Jacob Tamme, Adrian Clayborn, DeVonta Freeman — and the list goes on. I did my best with this one! Tell me who your favorite Falcon is in the comments.

From Hawes6:

Ridder ranks 14th in QBR and passer rating, yet he's bottom five in PFF's ratings. What gives? Are they confirming their priors or are they seeing something different from the stats? QB play all over the league is problematic, why is he ranked so low?

I have some pretty strong feelings around Pro Football Focus, the gist of which is: I think their grades can be a useful tool as part of the process of analyzing player performance, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to rely on them to tell the whole story. I do think some implicit bias creeps into the numbers. But in this case I don’t necessarily think they’re wrong.

Falcoholic commenter TyroneuhsaurusRex had a really interesting perspective on this question that I wanted to also share:

Tyroneuhsaurus Rex
IMO - QBR heavily overrates running plays for the QB. It's the reason they created the stat, because the impact from the QB has changed from just being a passing position. He got a rushing tuddy and had a couple of first downs because of his legs. That's all you need to increase QBR to be artificially high.
In this scenario, I believe PFF's scores are closer to real because the passing impact will almost always be more important. I rewatched the game, and would say Ridder is terrible at throwing to the left and reading multiple receivers. He was probably 6/10 to the left if you look at stats, but the Pitts end zone pass was a flag so it doesn't count in stats. PFF still counts it, and it was an off-target pass. They'd say 6/11. But if you watch 6/11, he makes some really bad throws, and only 2 of those were actual good passes. The other 9 were just bad.
Pro Football Reference said Ridder's on-target throws were really low - maybe 30%? NFL average over the past few seasons is around 70%. His bad throws were also high - 17% or so. Average is closer to 12%.
If you look at the data, Ridder is holding the offense back. He's almost like Tebow - can get the team fired up, but his passing leaves a lot to be desired.

The Falcons don’t need Ridder to be Patrick Mahomes (but wouldn’t it be nice if he WERE Patrick Mahomes??). But they do need him to improve his accuracy. If he does that, I think we’ll see that PFF score rise as well.

From BradFalconsMan23:

Who do you think will lead the team in sacks this year on the defensive line? I really like what I've seen from Bud Dupree so far, I also have a feeling Ebakatie will start coming along as the season progresses.

I feel like every year we’re still waiting for a pass rush. This year, though, may be different.

The Falcons finished last season with just 21 sacks total. They’ve only gotten three so far this season (one from Kaden Elliss, one from Lorenzo Carter and a shared sack from Grady Jarrett and Troy Andersen). But when we flip the page over to quarterback hits, this is where things get interesting to me.

Grady Jarrett has three. David Onyemata and Arnold Ebiketie each have two. Kaden Ellis, Lorenzo Carter, Troy Andersen, and Calais Campbell each have one. That’s a decent list of guys who’ve already shown they can pressure the quarterback, and like you said, Bud Dupree’s shown some flashes and he’s not even on either of those lists.

If I have to guess who will lead the team in sacks by the end of the season, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Onyemata. He had five sacks in the NO defense with defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen last season, and he already looks poised to build on that.

From RayzorBeak:

When CP is healthy enough, does he see more snaps a game at WR or HB?

There’s not great news about Cordarrelle Patterson on Friday’s injury report. After being off the report all week, Patterson was limited on Friday with this lingering thigh injury. Last week he seemed to be healthy enough to go, but was a scratch on game day. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday against the Lions.

This is all very annoying because a) Patterson is one of my favorite contemporary Falcons and b) we all want to see how he’ll factor into the offense with this stacked backfield and his versatility. The Falcons gave him a new “Joker” position designation this year, which is basically an offensive weapon — which fits for Patterson. We all want to see what that means when he hits the field, but I wouldn’t hold your breath for that this week. Hopefully I’m wrong. Get well soon, CP.

Next up, Doc Falcon:

Doc Falcon
Does the 2-0 starts by both the Bucs and Saints concern you? More specifically, does this mean the NFC South will be a 3 team battle for the division title or do you think just one of them sustains this early season success?

Honestly, it generally doesn’t, and there are a few reasons. One, we are still very early in the season, and the three-game preseason has left some teams a little rusty as things get rolling in the regular season. With the Saints, they’ve played the Titans and the Panthers (who the Falcons also beat in Week 1) and won by a total of four points across both games, so it’s not like they’re hanging 70 on opponents or anything. The Bucs beat the Vikings by a field goal, and they beat the Bears by 10. If they keep winning, ask me this question again in a couple of weeks and I may have a different answer! But for now, no, I’m not concerned.

From Whreeves:

Looking at the schedule - am I correct in reading we don't have any SNF or MNF games (I guess 12/17 vs. Panthers and 1/7 vs. Saints are "TBD"). I would think each team would get at least one a year, but now that I think about it, it doesn't feel like we get prime time all that often. (Meantime, we were treated to two stinkers of games on Monday.)
I guess that wasn't framed as a question, but... what gives? What does it take to get on prime time? Is this an anti-ATL bias playing out in real time?

There is still a chance for Falcons games to get flexed into primetime later in the season, but that’s only going to happen if the Falcons are good. You might not be able to tell by some of the Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football games in recent memory (did you watch that absolute dumpster fire between the Broncos and Colts last year? My condolences if so), but the NFL’s strategy is to try to put together the most entertaining matchups for primetime games, and they want them to be entertaining in a quality play way, not in a “whoops we forgot how onside kicks work against the Cowboys” way.

From MrMustard2023:

One more question regarding NFL concussion protocols;
Are there degrees of concussions? For example, do team doctors rate some concussions better or worse than other concussions?
"Player X has a 4 degree concussion, as opposed to a 7 degree concussion" if you will.
Or is a concussion a concussion with no degrees of damage?
Thank you Jenna for any insight you may have.

Mr. Mustard, you also asked if we had good news on Troy Andersen, and I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but he cleared the concussion protocol and is not even on the injury report as of Thursday and Friday. Looking forward to seeing him back on the field.

There are grades to concussions. If you look on the internet, though, there’s a whole bunch of conflicting information, so I’m going to go with what my doctor told me after I ended up with a Grade III concussion last summer.

Grade I concussion is one where the person doesn’t lose consciousness, but does exhibit other signs of concussion, like headache, confusion, memory loss, difficulty with balance, dizziness, light and noise sensitivity, etc. A Grade II concussion involves the loss of consciousness for less than five minutes, and a Grade III concussion involves the loss of consciousness for more than five minutes. There are other factors too, like the fencing posture — if you see that after a player sustains a head injury, you’re unlikely to be dealing with a lower-grade concussion.

Thankfully for Troy Andersen, he’s already bounced back from his. Here’s hoping he stays healthy going forward.

Thank you to everyone who shared their questions with us this week, and keep an eye out Tuesday afternoon for next week’s mailbag! Sound off in the comments and share your thoughts.