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The Falcoholic mailbag, Week 4: Answering your questions ahead of London game vs. Jaguars

Let’s get into this week’s questions.

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

I opened this week’s call for mailbag questions with a few questions of my own stemming from last Sunday’s ugly loss to the Detroit Lions.

Falcoholic reader bbones2828 was kind enough to answer them all in the comments.


What in the world is the offensive line doing? legal robbery
Why did they kick a field goal down 17 with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter? Koo fantasy owners. Arthur does care
How did this team win two games? dropped ridder interceptions.... and our lord and savior Jessie Bates
Why is Arthur Smith still calling the plays? 8th wonder of the world... please dear god stop it art.
Why does this team have only two sacks? Jalen Carter character issues....

Now, as we prepare ourselves for whatever this 9:30 a.m. London game holds on Sunday, let’s dive into this week’s Falcons questions. But we’ll start with one that isn’t even about the Falcons.

Jeanna, what are your thoughts on Traylor (Travis and Taylor)? Asking for a (pathetic) friend.

I have been covering the Falcons since 2011, and I’ve been covering the NFL as a whole since 2015. And this has been one of the wildest weeks I can remember in the NFL, thanks to the world’s most recognizable pop star becoming the world’s most recognizable Chiefs fan.

The reaction from the world at large has been absolutely bonkers. The NFL rolled out Sunday Ticket-themed friendship bracelets, just like the ones Swifties have been exchanging at her iconic Eras tour, and they’ll be giving them away at Chiefs vs. Jets on Sunday night, a game where Taylor is once again expected to be in attendance. Even non-sports media outlets are trying to capitalize on the SEO:

Anyway, I hope Taylor and Travis are very happy together, and if they aren’t, I hope this era turns into a banger of a breakup song.

Just as a point of interest, the Falcons are currently blitzing 26% of the time which is around mid point in the league so far. Last year there were near the very bottom at 16% so even with the pass rush failing, I have to give Nielsen credit for trying to fix it via the blitz. Surely that's got to be the right idea.
OK, I will ask a question. Where do NFL teams practice while in London? Just wondering if they have to use a soccer pitch ("pitch" means "field") or if there is some kind of dedicated field for NFL teams to use.

The Falcons practiced at Harrow Boarding School in Harrow, England, about 25 minutes from Wembley Stadium. The Jaguars are practicing at a place called The Grove, which is about 15 miles outside of central London. I don’t have any details about the fields (or pitches, whatever the case may be there), but I do know thanks to Tori McElheney of that the media turnout for Falcons practice was significant.

Given the ease of the upcoming schedule, I see 2-4 games where ATL might have difficulty winning (Jags in London, @ Saints , Vikings home, @ Jets, etc). The other 10-12 games (on paper) seem very winnable. Granted, there's always a couple of "these guys get paid to play football too" games so factor that in. But my question is: how many "winnable" games must we lose to see a change at QB? Either this year, or next year's draft. I just don't see us giving Ridder more than a year to figure it out with the strength of next year's QB class coming in.

I think you’re right about that timetable. I don’t see this coaching staff giving Ridder less than this full season to show what he can do. I think that, for better or worse, they’ve decided he’s their guy and they’re going to ride that train until the wheels fall off. What I’m more concerned about at this particular moment is that I don’t believe the coaching staff is putting Ridder in positions to succeed. The offensive line has been ... not great. Once again. Ridder was sacked SEVEN TIMES just against the Lions, and that’s not even factoring in the hits and hurries.

I watched this episode of Quarterback School breaking down Ridder’s Week 3 performance, and it gets into detail about Ridder’s inconsistency. But it also raises a lot of questions for me about whether this scheme is doing him any favors, and I’m inclined to believe it isn’t.

Why have we not signed Rashaan Evans yet? With Anderson on IR...doesn't it make total sense?

Evans is a free agent, and it would make a ton of sense to sign him. I can understand not signing someone right before an overseas trip, though, simply because of the logistics that go into coordinating that trip. I think we can probably expect a signing to replace Andersen after the team gets back stateside.

What would you grade the first 2 draft classes of this regime so far? Ignoring this rookie class

This is a good question, but a tough one. I’ll give the 2021 draft a D. Kyle Pitts is a special player, but that only matters if the Falcons actually get him involved consistently in the offense. Pitts’ rookie season showed us what he’s capable of, and it’s much more than he’s contributing now.

Richie Grant didn’t see that much action defensively in 2021, but was a mainstay on the field for the Falcons in 2022. Jalen Mayfield was forced into starting before he was ready, he wasn’t good, and now he’s off the team. Of this nine-man draft class, three are starting (Pitts, Drew Dalman, and Richie Grant), two are on injured reserve (Avery Williams and Adetokunbo Ogundeji), one is a backup/rotational guy (Ta’Quon Graham), and three are no longer with the team (Jalen Mayfield, Darren Hall, and Frank Darby.

For the 2022 class, they get a B- from me. Drake London’s talent is there, but his role in this team’s offensive game plans has been a real head-scratcher. Arnold Ebiketie is starting and making an impact, and Troy Andersen would be if he hadn’t landed on IR this week. Ridder is a work in progress, I guess. I think he would have been better off learning behind Matt Ryan in 2021 than Marcus Mariota, but for some reason the team does not consult me about personnel decisions. Tyler Allgeier was an absolute steal. Overall, and obviously we’re still early in all of these players’ careers, not a bad class.

That’s it for this week’s mailbag, folks. Next week, I’ll be in Ohio for my brother’s wedding, so one of my esteemed colleagues at The Falcoholic will be answering your questions on my behalf. Fingers crossed we’ll have plenty of questions around a Falcons win this week.