On Marcus Mariota, Arthur Smith and the Falcons passing game, Kyle Pitts and Drake London, plus Desmond Ridder

You will notice a theme in this Monday Bair Mail.

There were so many questions about the passing game, from Marcus Mariota to Drake London to Kyle Pitts to Desmond Ridder that I chose to tackle all of these topics at once.

I saw more questions on defense and a stoned secondary. I’ll get to them, and anything else you want to discuss, in the leftover mailbags ahead of a Week 8 game against Carolina.

Kerry Miller of Centerville, Ga.

Scott, I’m a big fan of where the Falcons are going and what Smith is doing. However, when you’re lit like they were by the Bengals and only throw the ball 13 times, it feels counterproductive. Yes, I know Coach Smith wants to be a running team, but late in the 3rd and into the 4th I expected to see more assists. Was this the plan? Was it a lack of confidence in MM1 (that 75 meter bomb was a thing of beauty)? Did he feel the defense was over and decided to run as long as possible? It just seemed strange to me.

bay: I’ve had that question a ton, Kerry. Lack of passing volume DOMINATED the post-game mailbag, with one in two questions about it. Let Kerry’s question represent so many of you who wonder why the Falcons didn’t throw more multiple scores in the second half.

Well, first of all, you have to own the ball to throw a ton. They only had 18 games in the second half. Of those 18 plays, seven were passing, three were sacks (where Mariota was trying to throw), and another three were Marcus Mariota runs, at least some of which were undesigned.

In total, they’ve gained just 40 total yards over the past two quarters. What they needed was hard practice in the second half, as they weren’t able to stop the Bengals’ offense.

I think we all need to look a little deeper into the box score here before we do a simple ‘run vs. pass debate’. Let’s also be clear on one thing: the play call is not a problem. Arthur Smith and Dean Pees are great calling plays.

It’s about the identity of the team, how it works. They are a running team that like to control the pace and tone of games. They are good too. They certainly run better block than they pass protect. They have an athletic quarterback that adds a unique element to the running game. They have physical fullbacks who can break tackles.

Were they a good passing team when they threw? Not really. They flashed at times, but they weren’t consistent enough to perform like the Bengals did in Week 7, where they also defied convention and threw a ton with a multi-point lead, deep of the second half.

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