Mailbag: Atlanta Falcons edition

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Time for the Atlanta Falcons in our series of team-by-team mailbags.

David in New York writes: Hey Pat, I read your blog all the time and it really seems like you know what you're doing. I have tried this question on the chat a few times, but it never seems to get answered. You mentioned before the season that the Falcons dodged the injury bug almost entirely last year. Now, it seems that injuries are starting to pile up on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Not to mention the drop off from the running game, which seemed to be the main staple for the Falcons' game planning. I have been a Falcons fan my entire life, but there is a certain curse you may be aware of that seems to linger over this franchise. Due to your knowledge and experience, I want you to reassure me that this is the year the Falcons get that monkey off of their back. Thanks.

Pat Yasinskas: I’ll reassure you in a minute, but first let me acknowledge that I’m well aware of the “curse’’ that seems to hang over the Falcons. Let me share an anecdote with you from the first day of minicamp back in June. A couple of media members spotted a dead bird right outside the door of the media room and the joke quickly became that this was an omen for the season. That’s understandable when a franchise has been around more than 40 years and never has had back-to-back winning seasons. The injuries are a concern and they are growing, but the Falcons still haven’t been hit as hard as some teams. Their depth will be tested. No comes the reassurance part. I think the Falcons will be fine. Mike Smith is too good a coach not to challenge for a playoff spot, especially when he’s got his team off to a 4-1 start.

Ray in Atlanta writes: Who do you see stepping up opposite Houston at corner for the Falcons? I am not convinced Grimes is the answer. He seems to fit the nickel back position better than true corner. I would love to see a young guy like Jackson or Owens play well and fill that spot, but I am not sure if the talent level is where it needs to be with them. Do you think that they have the pieces on the roster to carry them through the season, or will this be their Achilles' heel that prevents them from reaching the upper echelon of teams?

Pat Yasinskas: With Brian Williams out for the season with injury, cornerback suddenly is a huge issue. I think the Falcons are going to keep Brent Grimes as the nickel back and give Chevis Jackson first crack at the starting job. Not sure how Jackson fell down the depth chart in the preseason, but I liked what I saw out of him as a rookie last year. I think there’s talent there and the staff will coach it out of Jackson.

John in Denver writes: Hey Pat, Love the blog. By the time the Falcons host the Redskins in two weeks they will have faced 3 teams coming of bye weeks in a month's worth of football. The last team, Washington, will be after a short week for the Falcons because of the Monday night game in NO. I am not trying to whine but is this a huge oversight in the schedule or just one of those things?

Pat Yasinskas: I think it’s just one of those quirks that sometimes happens with NFL scheduling. I don’t think the NFL was intentionally trying to make life tough on the Falcons. But I’m sure the NFL has gotten an earful about this. Falcons president Rich McKay is a co-chairman of the influential competition committee and I’m sure he’s let some important people hear about this matter.

George in Kent, England writes: Since the bye, the Falcons have only conceded 24 points and have played clutch defense, however they are still hemorrhaging yards and the secondary seems like it’s always ready to give up those explosive plays that Smith and BVG hate so much. I was impressed that the D saved the Bears game, but how long can they bend and not break for?

Pat Yasinskas: The Atlanta defense has been doing a pretty nice job of bending without breaking since the start of last season. The Falcons knew they needed to upgrade their defense and that was the focus of the offseason. But rookie defensive tackle Peria Jerry is out for the season with an injury and rookie safety William Moore was hurt for much of the preseason and hasn’t been able to work his way into a starting role. That means the Falcons aren’t loaded with blue-chip players on defense and they have to get by with that. Brian VanGorder does a nice job of getting the most of the talent he has to work with and I think this defense is slightly better than last year and the Falcons got to the playoffs then.