We’ve saved the first-place Atlanta Falcons for the last stop in today’s NFC South tour of team-by-team mailbags.
Adam in Washington, D.C., writes: As a Falcons' fan, I am extremely delighted with the outcome of the games so far. We are arguably a few plays away from being anywhere between 5-0 and 1-4. I know good teams find a away to win, but don't good teams also score touchdowns after driving the ball.
Pat Yasinskas: True, the Atlanta offense hasn’t been great at finishing. But the Falcons are 4-1 and it’s a lot easier to tweak or fix things when you’re winning. Atlanta’s relatively healthy on offense and has lots of tools. I think this is a flaw that can be fixed.
Reid in Atlanta writes: I've been looking at the game-day inactives for the Falcons a lot recently and noticed something. Very regularly our younger O-linemen are on that list, guys like Mike Johnson, Joe Hawley and Garrett Reynolds. I know the Falcons have a lot of tough decisions to make in the upcoming off season when it comes to the O line, so why aren't they letting these guys play more? Get more game-day experience or at least see what they have? Also just to throw this out there, I've noticed Dominique Franks on that list a lot, any particular reason?
Pat Yasinskas: Let’s start with the offensive linemen. Yes, the Falcons probably will have some turnover there in the offseason and that’s why they drafted Johnson and Hawley this year. But the offensive line is functioning very well right now, so you don’t want to tinker with it. The Falcons are getting a look at Johnson and Hawley every day in practice and offensive line coach Paul Boudreau is one of the best. Those guys will be ready when needed, but they’re not needed yet. As far as Franks, I know the Falcons are very high on his potential and think he can develop into something. But he’s caught in a numbers game right now because Atlanta has strong depth at cornerback.
Greg in Atlanta writes: Comment: How bout them Falcons?**Falcons lead the NFL with 10 interceptions and have nine players with at least one pick this season**Falcons defense is arguably the most improved unit in the NFL. Club has surrendered just one offensive TD in 4 of 5 games this season. **Falcons are 20-1 under head coach Mike Smith when entering the final quarter with the lead.
Pat Yasinskas: Yep, let’s give some credit to the Atlanta defense because I don’t think it’s getting enough. The Falcons have improved tremendously on that side of the ball and they did it their way, instead of the way we were all telling them -- go out and get a big-name pass-rusher. John Abraham has bounced back, Kroy Biermann’s rising up and the signing of cornerback Dunta Robinson has made everyone on the defense better.
Karim in Chicago writes: How valuable do you think the return of Michael Jenkins is for the Falcons? I know they have wanted to put Harry Douglas in the slot for a while now (which leads me to also ask how good Douglas can be in the slot?). Do you think the Falcons offense can be even better than they are now?
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I think the offense has only scratched the surface of its potential and I think the return of Jenkins is a much bigger deal than people realize. Jenkins never has been the kind of guy to put up huge numbers or make a lot of splash plays. But he’s an important role player and the perfect complement to Roddy White and Douglas. Jenkins is an excellent run-blocker and a dependable possession receiver. He makes the guys around him better and no one is going to benefit more from his return than Douglas. He’s a guy who fits the classic profile of a slot receiver and the Falcons have been itching to let him focus on that. It might take Jenkins a few weeks to get into a groove. But, once he is, I think the entire Atlanta offense is going to benefit from what he brings.