FLOWERY BRANCH – Real Falcons ‘fans’ need to step up and send thank you cards to new Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey.
What he was able to achieve in his four years of unprecedented success in franchise history should be recognized. He doesn’t deserve having some rocks thrown at him on his way out of town.
Some of you, before disrespecting Mularkey, need to reflect and look at his unit’s accomplishments.
The Falcons had to build the offense from scratch, starting with a rookie quarterback, a rookie left tackle, a free agent running back and a new right guard.
The offense was the backbone of the teams that went 11-7, 9-7, 13-3 and 10-6 and made three trips to the playoffs. The good folks of Cleveland and Buffalo would throw parades if they could average double-digit wins.
Here’s more to reflect on about how the unit performed under Coach Mularkey:
–Ryan tied Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino for most wins over his first three seasons in the NFL.
–Michael Turner rushed for more than 1,300 yards in three seasons and went to two Pro Bowls.
–Roddy White led the league in receptions with 115 in 2010 and has gone to four straight Pro Bowls.
–Tony Gonzalez continued his march to Canton, Ohio.
–Turner broke the franchise record, in just four seasons, for most rushing touchdowns with 50.
–Ryan broke the single-season passing record with 4,177 yards.
–Ryan became just the second quarterback in franchise history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season.
–Ryan also set a franchise mark for 300-yard passing games in a season with six.
–The offensive line even started to get recognition as right tackle Tyson Clabo went to the Pro Bowl after the 2010 season.
–The line was a finalist in 2010 for John Madden’s “Most Valuable Protector’s Award” which goes to the top unit in the league.
There’s plenty more, but you get the point.
Some Falcons “fans” have a history of blasting the play caller. They didn’t like Dan Reeves’ offense (too conservative), then Greg Knapp’s attack (lack of structure) and now Mularkey’s (too conservative) unwarranted attacks. Bobby Petrino was here long enough and there were several other distractions.
Here’s the deal on playing calling. All of the plays will work if executed properly and everybody wins their battles. There are no bad plays.
You can’t blame the coordinator when your top receiver drops 14 passes (Roddy White last year). You can’t blame the coordinator when your line can’t get a big enough push to get six inches. You can’t blame the coordinator when the line can’t give the quarterback time enough to throw deep passes. (Ryan had to launch early on those two strikes against Houston to open the game.)
Those are not bad plays calls. That’s a failure to execute. But second-guessing the play caller is the easiest thing for fans to do.
Pro coaches spend so much time getting ready that there are rarely any just absolutely bad calls. You’ll
never see a goal-line defense on a third-and-long. (I mentioned that to Brian VanGorder and he said, “I got five kids to feed. Why would I do that?”)
I don’t preach or rant to you all often, so thanks for let me get this off my chest.
Also, I’ve got to wish Coach Mularkey good luck right here like I did in a couple phone messages.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog