FLOWERY BRANCH — Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson, in a column on foxsports.com, called for the Falcons to open up their offensive attack.
“I don’t think the Falcons can keep throwing the ball underneath like they did against the Bears and expect to win in the long run,” Johnson wrote. “They have to find a way to get Roddy White deep and find more ways to create something big.”
The Falcons also made a big 5-for-1 draft-day trade to move up 21 spots to draft the fleet Julio Jones with the hopes of adding more explosive plays to the offense. In the 30-12 defeat against the Chicago Bears, the Falcons did not challenge the Bears
cover-two zone defense deep down the field.
The tried to attack by throwing underneath. The Falcons were hoping their receivers could take the short passes and then beat defenders up the field. The Bears did a good job of tackling and keeping the Falcons in front of them.
Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey defended his attack. He clearly doesn’t want quarterback Matt Ryan forcing the ball into coverage.
“I don’t know what that means,” Mularkey said when asked if the offense could be more aggressive. “When they’ve got guys down there and they are taking away the deep ball; you throw it underneath. You can force it down there and turn the ball over more possibly; which we obviously don’t want to do.”
Mularkey did say he was surprised about the number of check-down passes that Ryan threw.
“There were a number of times where we tried to get the ball deep, but that’s Tampa-2,” Mularkey said. “That’s the scheme of things and that’s probably the most check downs that I can remember that I’ve ever been involved with.”
Mularkey thought running back Michael Turner, who caught three passes for 40 yards did a job when he was the check-down receiver.
The Falcons are going to remain selective when throwing deep passes.
“We are trying to get them down there, but we are not going to force the issue,” Mularkey said.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog