Falcons receivers not piling up the YAC or redzone scores

Roddy White had another 1,000-yard receiving season and was strong after the catch and in the redzone.

Roddy White had another 1,000-yard receiving season, but can improve on his YAC and inside the redzone.

FLOWERY BRANCH – Let’s put the Falcons receiving corps under the microscope.

There are 18 players on the roster who play either wide receiver or tight end. Likely only nine — 6 WRS and 3 TEs — will make the final 53-man roster.

One of the keys for the offense will be for the receivers to improve their yards after the catch or YAC. They can also increase their productivity inside the redzone.

Roddy White led the team with 392 yards after the catch last season, followed by Tony Gonzalez‘ 240.  But White averaged just 4.6 after the catch and Gonzalez average just 2.9. Michael Jenkins had 126 yards after the catch, but averaged just 2.5 yards after the catch.

In 2008, Harry Douglas averaged 5.0 yards after the catch as a rookie.

For receivers with more than 50 catches last season, Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin led the league in YAC Average at 7.6 yards. Green Bay’s Greg Jennings was second at 7.1 and Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson was third at 6.8.

For tight ends with more than 50 catches last season, San Diego’s Antonio Gates led the league in YAC average at 6.6. Philadelphia’s Brent Celek was second at 6.0 and Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller was third at 5.8.

The Falcons don’t run the West Coast offense, which is designed in part to stack up yards after the catch. Piling up yards after the catch shows that the receiver is a playmaker with the ball in his hands.

Also, the Falcons can become more lethal in the redzone.

Gonzalez was by far the top target (21 passes)  inside the redzone in 2009, but White (16 passes) had more touchdowns. It would seem that if you line those two guys up on the same side and run some combination routes, that someone else would be open for tons of catches.

Over the last two seasons, White has 10 redzone touchdowns. Jenkins has not scored inside the redzone over the last two seasons.

Here’s a statistical breakdown:


Name                  Catches      0         1-10    11-20    21-plus  Yds       YAC     YAC/AVG

*Harry Douglas         23          13           7         2            1               320             115            5.0

Roddy White              85          30        47         4            4            1,153           392            4.6

Justin Peelle              12             4           5          3           0             115              55             4.6

Brian Finneran          11             2          8           1            0            111              49             4.5

Eric Weems                  6             2          3            1           0              50             24              4.0

Tony Gonzalez            83          27         51           5           0             867           240               2.9

Michael Jenkins         50          15          34          1           0             635            126               2.5


Name                          Target                Rec               REC/Pct          Yds         Yds/Avg      TDs

Tony Gonzalez              21                    9                    42.9                  77               8.6                  4

Roddy White                  16                   9                     56.3                 70                7.8                 6

Brian Finneran                7                   3                     42.9                  19                 6.3                0

Michael Jenkins              6                   3                     50.0                    2                 0.7               0

* Harry Douglas              4                   3                     75.0                23                   7.7                1

Justin Peelle                  3                   2                      66.7                   5                   2.5             2

Eric Weems                    1                   1                    100.0                  4                  4.0              1

* 2008 stats for Harry Douglas

52 comments Add your comment

Falcons will win

June 3rd, 2010
7:21 am

play calling is the biggest fault, for all of MM mister gadget moniker, he is not sdo creative in the redzone, we usually try to get close to the endzone and run the ball.


June 3rd, 2010
7:36 am

Kinda interesting but the object is to catch the football downfield for a big gain. As for recieving yards in the so called red zone it depends on how close the line of scrimmage is to the promised land. Its a meaningless stat.
Sure they run alot close in because the field so short and clogged up. You sure as hell don’t want to have a pick after a long drive in a close game.

Chop Buster

June 3rd, 2010
7:40 am

The biggest thing I see that prevents our WRs from making a lot of YAC is getting good separation and the QB putting the ball in a position that the receiver is able to catch it in stride and keep moving. As far as the red zone lack of production, I’d rather pound the ball in than risk an interception when you get that close to the goal.


June 3rd, 2010
7:41 am

YAC is a largely a function of timing and ball placement. It seems MR2 was hiting the receivers in stride in year 1. Was there any substantial difference in YAC year over year? DOL was Ryan overthinking last year?


June 3rd, 2010
7:48 am

Play calling and scheme limitations will continue to limit the Falcons offense. Mularkey needs to give Matt more no-huddle and more options in the passing game than last year. More and better designed screens to slow the rush.

Sly Ty

June 3rd, 2010
7:54 am

Chop Buster you are right. I like Mike Mularky’s approach in the red zone. We are a pounding team, and I am not concerned with the YAC stat. Roddy is one of the best WR in the league, and Tony G is the greates TE of all time. Turner, Snelling, Dahl, Mclure, Blalock, Muhelli and Justin Peele do a great job of beating up on people in the redzone.IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT.


June 3rd, 2010
7:55 am

D.O., I’m glad you raised this topic. People don’t talk much about our receivers, preferring to address other units (especially on defense) as the cause of our poor performance in some games last year. But our receiving corp was average at best last year (probably a bit below-average). Even Roddy, who had an ok year, often had trouble creating space, and he sometimes doesn’t seem to run precise routes. We don’t have a single receiver who is within a mile of someone like, say, Colston. Tony G. runs very precise routes, and has reliable hands—and we’re all delighted to have him—but he’s not going to win any quickness or speed contests among current top TE’s, which is part of why his YAC is low. I’m looking to Harry D. to bring a new dimension this year. He flashed it at times when he was first getting on track. Also, Weems can add some excitement. And at 5′9″, he HAS to create space or he isn’t going to make the catch.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by deAnne, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: Falcons receivers not piling up the YAC or redzone scores http://bit.ly/bnNvTn [...]

Sly Ty

June 3rd, 2010
8:10 am

Greg, since you view the falcons receiving corps/TE group as average, could you list all of the teams that are vastly superior to them. Thanks.

[...] D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution puts the Atlanta Falcons wide receivers corps under the microscope. [...]

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 3rd, 2010
8:31 am

Falcons will win — MM hasn’t really shown that Inspector Gadget side, except for that occasional reverse. I’d much rather run it in inside the redzone, too. Less risk of a turnover. That’s where you want to play POWER football.

lanier – It can’t be a “meaningless” stat when they passed the ball 54 times inside the redzone. That’s a lot of plays.

Greg — I was intrigued by the numbers. Especially after I noticed some of the players with much better YAC averages that the receivers. I do need some coaching analysis, but I believe anything over 5.0 is above average.

Mountain_Jim — I concur with a suped-up screen and draw attack. The no-huddle works, but it’s easy to adjust to. That’s why we don’t see it more often. I’m not sure they are ready to have a third-year guy trying to do the Peyton Manning think all game long. Not sure he’s ready for all of that.


June 3rd, 2010
8:34 am

I am really hoping Harvey can come along and make the team. His measuables would compliment Roddy well. Get is done Harvey!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 3rd, 2010
8:39 am

Hamp — Don’t get hyped about these receivers right now. You have to see them do it in games. Laurent Robinson was an all-OTA and all-Minicamp guy. He was AWESOME!!! Made some of the most acrobatic catches ever seen. But when they put on the pads, here and in St. Louis, he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Lesson for us: Receivers are supposed to look good in no pads running against dummy coverages.


June 3rd, 2010
8:41 am

I would love to see norwood healthy where the other team has to worry about him on every play it might provide more chances for the receivers to run after the catch.
a healthy norwood and douglas opens the field for everybody.
I know I am wishing for a lot to have them both healthy for an entire year but they would make the O so much more dangerous.
I am just wondering if its realistic to expect douglas to be as explosive the 1st year after the injury he had?


June 3rd, 2010
8:42 am

D-Led, do you really believe we carry 6 receivers or are you including one on the practice squad? I think they use the extra roster spot on a CB.


June 3rd, 2010
8:44 am

And I would like to point out DOL that the person that heads your YAC list was also undrafted…

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 3rd, 2010
8:45 am

uga_b — Last year, Roddy, Jenks, Finneran, Booker, Weems and Bergeron bounced back and fourth. Six or 5 is the number. The extra spot will go to the best special teams players whether if he’s a WR, LB or DB.

Yes, I had Mile Austin on my “to watch/small school list” going into that combine along with the TE Kevin Boss (thanks to a tip from Dan Reeves) kid and OL Jahri Evans. Austin ran too slow at the combine and that led to him being undrafted.

South Ga Dawg Fan
— I don’t think you count on Harry until he makes it back. I think you can coach everybody else up to get it moving up field after the catch. I don’t want to focus on backs in the passing game, because RBs have a different analysis YAC. Norwood was over 5.0 on 19 catches last year. Health is his issue.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 3rd, 2010
8:55 am

QUESTIONS FOR Smith, Musgrave and Roddy — I’ve got to head out to the BRANCH. We have a open media day for OTAs. Send along your questions for Smith, Musgrave and Roddy. I’ll check back here before I hit the field. (I have to go back and look to see who sent it along, but that was a good question last week for Coach Pires about the LBs blitzing more next season. THANKS!!!)


June 3rd, 2010
9:22 am

The LB blitzing more, was me DOL

Mike Smith…How does he feel about the RB corp and who in camp is really making his head turn? Harvey?

For Musgrave…Does this Ward kid have what it takes to make our team?
A Championship caliber QB in collage, will that translate?

Roddy…Has he been running routes with Ryan beyond just the practice field? Some successful QB/WR combos in the past have taken thier off time to continue thier timing together.

PS thier timing still looked pretty sharp at the mini camp.


June 3rd, 2010
9:24 am

You should totally ask Roddy the cliche golf foursome question. If you had to pick three other receivers for a golf outing in order to try and learn an aspect of their game…

But seriously, ask Roddy how his focus as a veteran changes for OTAs. What is it he is working on/what area could he improve the most?

For Musgrave, it would be his philosophy on a 3rd qb, does he prefer younger developmental or someone who can challenge for the 2nd more immediately? Has Matt approached this year any differently? How big an impact did offensive injuries have on his completion percentage?

For Smith, I would ask him if he thinks both sides of the ball now have a chance for more explosive plays, e.g. takeaways, plays over 20yds. This is basically a follow-up on speed and urgency. I am also curious how he views the benefits of an intersquad scrimmage with the Pats.


June 3rd, 2010
9:33 am

coach smith
are we going to be able to count on the kicking game this year


June 3rd, 2010
10:17 am

Could be routes. Could be the scheme, could be that the ball simply isn’t being thrown to the right spot to maximise YAC or it could be that other than Roddy (in SF with that 80 yard beauty) they simply aren’t breaking tackles. Probably a bit of everything.


June 3rd, 2010
10:17 am

The Falcons had there chances to go out and get a WR Brandon Marshal, Antiono Bryant, A. Boldin.They could have drafted Dez Bryant. They have a chance to get T.O. or make a trade for Vincent Jackson who is on the block.


June 3rd, 2010
10:18 am

What are we going to do about place kicking…. Matt Bryant can’t seriously be the guy can he?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 3rd, 2010
10:49 am

FalconsTransplant — Thanks, that was a good one. I see you have some more for us, too.

About to hit the field. Got all of the questions down.

Waffle House Fight Club

June 3rd, 2010
11:25 am

What are they serving in the lunch room today?


June 3rd, 2010
11:59 am

That is exactly why we need another receiver. Austin Miles is a FA too along with all of these guys. WR-
Austin Miles- 4th year
Mark Clayton- 5th year
Laveranues Coles- 10th year
Kevin Curtis- 7th year (same as Jenkins)
Devard Darling- 6th year
Malcolm Floyd- 4th year
Mike Furrey- 7th year
Vincent Jackson- 5th year
Justin Jenkins- 3rd year
Greg Lewis- 7th year
Lance Moore- 4th year
Mushin Muhammad- 14th year (may have more left than TO)
TO- 14th year
Josh Reed- 8th year
David Tyree- 6th year
Javon Walker- 8th year
Kelley Washington- 7th year


June 3rd, 2010
12:21 pm

We need Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. Maybe even Santana. Anybody from the U.


June 3rd, 2010
12:48 pm

The Falcons should push for Vincent Jackson or at last resort T.O. they have to do something at WR Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas are not break out WR. Roddy White is going to be double teamed more often now.


June 3rd, 2010
1:13 pm

T.O.? This is a winning team with exceptional chemistry and potential. We just went through a painful roster purge process to get rid of all the dead wood and “me” guys. Why on earth would we want to bring in Owens? I’d MUCH prefer they do NOTHING.

Honestly, I don’t know if I could bring myself to root for a team with T.O. on the roster.


June 3rd, 2010
1:14 pm

Bring in T.O. He has been a model citizen lately. Get rid of Jenkins.


June 3rd, 2010
1:28 pm

From my untrained eye I think part of the reason we struggled with YAC is because our WR’s had a hard time getting separation. Roddy was a little banged up last year and yet played through it so I give him credit for being as productive as he was; however, his injuries combined with having the best corners on him make it understandable that he would not get tremendous separation. MJ on the other hand had an opportunity to make big plays but for whatever reason (i.e. drops, Matt not seeing him, etc.) he did not cash in. Not having Douglas hurt more than we originally anticipated.
I think the separation issue is one reason why we selected Meir in the draft over some better known names. He is not extremely fast but he has been noted as a WR that runs good routes, possesses good hands, and knows how to get open. I expect our YAC #’s to look a lot better at the end of this year.


June 3rd, 2010
1:48 pm

It’s not the receivers, it’s one word. Mularkey. Conservative, easy to scout, no imaginaton unless you want to count those drive halting gadget revererses..Our receivers run to a spot and wait for the ball.


June 3rd, 2010
1:49 pm

The Falcons finished 14th overall last year in Red Zone Scoring percentage. 48.000% @ home, 54.839% away. (A 6-2 record at home, 3-5 away) New Orleans ranked 5th, 61.905% @ home, 60.000% away. (just so you can see how your eventual Super Bowl Champion fared, the Saints had a 6-2 home record, 7-1 away)

I was really hoping this read was going to be more about the new WR talent in Flowery Branch, not what we didn’t do last year. I have a good idea of what we have, I want more info about those returning from injuries, Kerry Meier, and free agent WR.

By the way, speaking of what we didn’t do, any of ya’ll been watching the Falcons on http://www.hulu.com/nfl/atlanta-falcons. Yeah, I know, there is heartbreak but there is some good memory lane stuff too………!!


June 3rd, 2010
1:51 pm

The object of the game is to move the ball. Get first downs. Score touchdowns. How you do it is not important as long as you get the dog gone ball in the end zone. Falcons just need to get first downs and the rest will follow. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that simple strategy does it?


June 3rd, 2010
1:54 pm

And Oh yeah-we need to play good defense. That is also part of the game isn’t it?


June 3rd, 2010
1:56 pm


June 3rd, 2010
1:14 pm
Bring in T.O. He has been a model citizen lately. Get rid of Jenkins.

Bring in TO…………….??? Tom, you weren’t breast fed were you. No Tom, it is not the immune deficiencies that concern me but the psychological bonding you never experienced, in other words, your nuts.


June 3rd, 2010
1:59 pm


June 3rd, 2010
1:48 pm
It’s not the receivers, it’s one word. Mularkey. Conservative, easy to scout, no imaginaton unless you want to count those drive halting gadget revererses..Our receivers run to a spot and wait for the ball.
Dude, couldn’t agree more about the reverses, I saw one work……………….hmmmm, maybe I didn’t…..!!!

Terrance X

June 3rd, 2010
2:08 pm

the great Raiders WR Warren Wells – out of Texas Southern – is the all-time leading player in yards per catch among NFL and AFL players. Wells averaged 23.13 yards per catch.

2 words

Raiders Vertical Game


June 3rd, 2010
3:02 pm

i think they just missed douglas big time last season the year before it seamed like he open up things for white and jenkins because jenkins did look better the year before last in the passing game as far as the redzone goes i think your just trying to come up with something to talk about because thats when u put the hard hat on unless they’re going to go with play action and get the ball out fast


June 3rd, 2010
3:07 pm

ryan looked good last year in the first 4 games when they gave up what one sack after that it look like to me he was pressing not looking throw all his reads missing WR

Paddy O

June 3rd, 2010
3:17 pm

The problem with a lot of our sets, they generally telegraph our intention for the upcoming play. You need a set formation, which would allow you to run all your 1-3 down plays out of. In this fashion, the defense has not clue about your intentions. I would probably run some type of I formation with 3 receivers and 1 tight end – however, that one other WR would need to be able to block. Then you just slide the guy in & out or put in motion to mask true intention. Then the QB would need to audible if he sees an aggressive blitz defense. We also do not seem to run very many slants, anyone else notice that?


June 3rd, 2010
4:43 pm

Matt Ryan needs to get comfortable giving pump fakes. I think you see more pump fakes and you see more receptions and YAC.


June 3rd, 2010
7:24 pm

The writings on the Wall for Michael Jenkins! He just is not producing! A first round pick with a Free Agent Mentality! I am so tired of teams being able to use a two deep zone with single coverage to michael jenkins! Please CMS make jenkins beat out Harry Douglass for his postion! we need a Real threat opposite white and Gonzo!

Sly Ty

June 3rd, 2010
7:41 pm

Dekalbdawg, go and watch the falcons game against the Giants last year, you guys keep complaining about Jenkins, he dominated the Giants DBs. He did drop a TD pass in the endzone, but he was running an adjusted route, and the ball wasn’t for him anyway. He’s a decent #2 receiver.


June 3rd, 2010
8:43 pm

Seems like many of us have reservations about Mularkey!

I hope Meier makes it.

Passes thrown behind the receiver can be caught but hardly ever produce YAC.

Ken Strickland

June 4th, 2010
1:49 am

The YAC stat is misleading. It often depends on the type of OFF a team runs, especially passing OFF, and the types of routes your receivers run. If you run a lot of hooks, down and in or down and out routes, you’re not going to accumulate a lot of YAC. Also, when you play against teams that play a lot of zone, like cover 2, and you don’t use a lot of 3-4 WR formations, your receivers are usually forced to squat in the soft spots in the zone. You’re not going to accumulate a lot of YAC that way, which is what zone are supposed to do.

Most run oriented teams like the Falcons usually have possession receivers who run possession type routes, which are designed to move the chain, not accumulate YAC. We also run very few screens of any kind and seldom throw to our RB’s, which are plays designed to gain a lot of YAC.

YAC is more important to teams who’s rushing OFF’s aren’t very strong, like the Eagles and Patriots. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the team wanting to improve in that area, but it’s not a critical stat, especially if our rushing OFF is producing.

Chop Buster

June 4th, 2010
6:49 am

Sly Ty…you’re kidding right? What Giants DBs are you referring to? Everyone knows the Giants didn’t have a secondary last year. MJ dominated a depleted secondary…yeah that’s about right for him. He is a big 6′4″ soft WR that still has not developed the ability to get separation or go and attack the ball at its highest point. He’s a bread basket receiver that waits on the ball to come to him. Even Roddy still waits on the ball occasionally.

[...] Falcons receivers not piling up the YAC [...]

Melly Mel ATL

June 4th, 2010
4:50 pm

Why is Michael Jenkins still on the Roster? Clearly he needs to be gone. The number dont lie. You let Chris Houston go, and his only problem was he couldnt get his head around,you can coach that up. Just because Michael Jenkins caught Matt’s first TD pass, doesnt give him the right to keep stealing money from us.