Bair Mail: In Desmond Ridder, added veteran edge rusher, 2022 hope, Julio Jones and more

Falcons training camp is underway. Hip, hip, whoa!

I love this time of year, when optimism is high and you learn about a team and its roster one practice session at a time. I take something from each.

That should lead to some fresh topics in the mail bag, and there were many good ones waiting for me in it. Let’s get right to them:

My question is why make Desmond Ridder compete for the starting QB that he showed in Cincinnati? I mean, if you look at the Bengals, didn’t they waste time with Joe on loan because they wasted time with Desmond? He was undefeated with UC. Falcons make the wrong move with Marcus!!

Bair: A few things about that, Justin. No. 1: There is no established starter yet. Marcus Mariota is the clear frontrunner, but Desmond Ridder will have every opportunity to earn the starting job with a stellar summer. We already know he had a strong spring.

There is no reason, however, to face him in anything. I also don’t think the Joe Burrow comparison fits here. Burrow was the No. 1 overall pick. While Ridder was the second quarterback taken, he was the 74th (!) player off the board. That’s a huge difference. You want to lead young quarterbacks down the right path, without forcing them into bad situations. This league has tons of examples of talented quarterbacks lost due to a poor environment or being rushed into action too soon.

They don’t need to do it here. That said, if Ridder earns it, he will start. The Falcons have not been in any way as far as the starting quarterback is concerned. Trust me on this one.

Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson #84 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota #1 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Mykal Walker #3 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

A defensive lineman looks on as he runs drills during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

A Guardian Cap is seen during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons tackle Kaleb McGary #76 takes the hit from offensive lineman Germain Ifedi #74 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta. Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Mykal Walker #3 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Germain Ifedi #74 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison #30 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts #8 and head coach Justin Peele look on during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

f4 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Keith Smith #40 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts #8 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett #97 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson #84 and running back Tyler Allgeier #25 during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Mike Ford #28 and cornerback Casey Hayward #29 react to their Madden ratings during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood. / Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and quarterback Marcus Mariota #1 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Marlon Davidson #90 during the AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Lorenzo Carter #9 and cornerback Teez Tabor #20 react to their Madden ratings during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood / Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Shanna Lockwood/© 2022 Atlanta Falcons

Jason Howell from Boca Raton, Fla.

Think you should bring in Dwight Freeney to mentor & our point rushers something like he did with Vic Beasley’s breakout season. We can bring in Dwight Freeney or John Abraham to mentor & Will he teach our top rushers how to get sacks?

Bair: That’s an interesting concept, Jason, considering the Falcons don’t employ a leading rusher older than 26. Adding a veteran could help bring in a young body. He could also take snaps, which isn’t ideal for a team trying to develop a young foundation. There aren’t a ton of great options on the market, but someone like Benson Mayowa could be a mentor and sub-package player. Why not see if Dee Ford is healthy and willing to take a test drive? The Falcons are still exploring options, but it should be the right fit and the right price, and someone who will deter development.

Don’t forget that OLB coach Ted Monachino is an outstanding coach and developer of talent. He can lead these young players if a vet is not added. Again, I don’t think you can add a vet at the expense of a young prospect’s roster spot. The Falcons are not in that place. They are trying to win, but they are also building for the future.

We had a good draft and solid free agency and we were coming off a 7 win season after we were written off, but we were still in the playoff hunt until the end of the season. I think we’re a better team than people give us credit for. Also guess I better address the elephant in the room…. What do you think about Julio signing with the Bucs? Rise Up

Bair: Thanks for coming, Gaz! I always enjoy hearing from Falcons fans abroad. I agree that expectations are low, and I think the Falcons are fine with that. This is a test for new veteran signings, new draft picks and those remaining. It’s a testing year for the coaches and staff, who are trying to show everyone they deserve more respect despite this clearly being a transition year with tons of dead money on the books. Can they do it? Time will tell.

As for Julio Jones coming to the NFC South, that’s an interesting move. They are scheduled to play the Falcons twice this season, also in Atlanta. There’s no telling how the fan base will react to seeing him in rival colors. It’s always a tough time for everyone involved. It will be years and it may not be his best vintage, but he is still a dynamic threat that the Falcons will have to count on when they play Tampa Bay. It will be strange to see him at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but on the opposite side.

Matthew Starks from Lithonia, Ga.

I really like your sensitive approach to assessing where we are as a team. I’ve heard so many pundits (especially on local talk radio) describe this team as low in overall talent. But when I look at each position group, I see them as the same or better at every position with the exception of QB. But I’ve always been a believer that that position gets too much credit and too much blame at times. Look at an MVP QB and you usually have a lot of good pieces around him. Sometimes schemes make talent. (Okay preamble above). What is your overall view of the talent this year versus last year?

Bair: Interesting question, Matthew. It might take the whole camp to respond with authority, but my gut says this year’s team is deeper. The secondary is much better. The offensive line has some options. The skill players are more intriguing, especially if you take Calvin Ridley out of the equation last year (which you should).

The one position that makes me waffle: Quarterback. Matt Ryan was a proven commodity who could always sling it and command a huddle and captain a locker room. We don’t know what Marcus Mariota and/or Desmond Ridder will be. That one position could wash the others, but, having said that, I believe that the list is improved and, in general, is in a better place.

Call for questions

Call for questions

Submit your questions here to be included in Monday’s Bail Mail. To see also : On the sidelines: Watch these Panthers cheerleaders-in-training take the field.

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