Atlanta Falcons: Could Douglas takeover for ‘Fair Catch Franks’ in the playoffs?

110812 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks breaks away for his second long return against the Dolphins during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011.      Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110812 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks breaks away for his second long return against the Dolphins during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — Until last Sunday, Dominique Franks had never played safety. But he was called in replace Hope when he left the game to be examined for a head injury.

“You just always have to be ready,” Franks said. “I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can. I got a chance to get out there and play a little bit of safety.”

Franks has played outside at cornerback and has been the primary nickel back, covering receivers in the slot. At safety, it’s a whole new ball game.

“Really, you have to be more patient,” Franks said. “You are the last defense back there. You have to make sure that you don’t give up the big play and if anything breaks, you’ve got to come up and make sure you make the tackle.”

Franks returns: Some fans on twitter have taken to calling Franks “Fair Catch Franks.” He has 17 fair catches and 20 punt returns for 154 yards (7.7 per return).

His 17 fair catches are seventh-most in the league behind Jets returner Jeremy Kerley (31), Minnesota’s Marcus Sherels (26), Philadelphia’s Damaris Johnson (22), Green Bay’s Randall Cobb (21), Detroit’s Stefan Logan (20) and Miami’s Davonne Bess (18), according to NFL.com stats.

His 7.7 yards per return is 21st in the league among players with at least 20 returns or more. Buffalo’s Leodis McKelvin leads the league with an 18.7 averaged and two touchdowns.

“Really, it’s just whatever I see back there,” Franks said. “Really, it’s just make a play. That’s all it is. Every play is different.”

In the loss to the Saints at New Orleans, the Falcons let Harry Douglas return a punt late when they were trying to bust a big return. Perhaps, they’ve been keeping him on ice for the playoffs?




86 comments Add your comment

atlantaALLDAY

December 20th, 2012
10:19 am

OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGG PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEE WE NEED SOME 1 OTHER THEN FRANKS FIELD POSITION IS KEY IN ALL GAMES HE IS A TRUE I SAY TRUE LIABILITY IN THE PUNT RETURN GAME HE HAS 0 BURST NO VISION ALL HE IS GOOD FOR IS FAIRCATCHING WE GET A VIABLE RETURNER BACK THERE AND ITS ON AND POPPING HOPE ATL SEE THEY NEED TO MOVE HIM ALSO

BillyBob

December 20th, 2012
10:19 am

I could have been first, wait, I am! Now that is really satisfying.

SirReal

December 20th, 2012
10:21 am

Fair catch Franks?!! Thats funny D Led. Y sure that wasnt YOU who came up with it?LOL ;) I do think HD would be better though. I really do.

GA_Native

December 20th, 2012
10:21 am

Had a chance for my first FIRST and blew it! #FairCaughtIt

PMC

December 20th, 2012
10:25 am

Dominique Franks returned kicks at Oklahoma if I remember correctly.

Some of these fair catches are so blatantly unnecessary, I’m fairly confident that they are more a product of what he is being taught and coached to do than his own choosing. If guys are 20 yards away from you and you are fair catching… that’s a problem unless they only want you to catch the ball and secure it.

kd

December 20th, 2012
10:27 am

were missing eric weems right about now

PMC

December 20th, 2012
10:28 am

really, with the weapons they have on this offense, it’s a pretty good strategy to just hold on to the football and not worry about a return. I’d just rather him run away from anything inside the 10.

Starship 1

December 20th, 2012
10:32 am

It isn’t fair to label Franks-esp because of the new rules the NFL has in place regarding kickoff field position. If you receive the ball in the endzone it’s a knee down for a guaranteed 1st and 10 on the twenty. Now if you receive the ball on the 10-then its more probable to attempt a run-when you can. Better to be safe than sorry.

falcfvr

December 20th, 2012
10:42 am

“Better safe than sorry”. Are you kidding?? The Falcon’s have played the better safe than sorry for 46 year’s. Full steam ahead and don’t take your foot off there neck’s till you hear the gun fire at 0:00!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rise Up ATL. Kick some lion a$$ Saturday night.

FanSinceBartowski

December 20th, 2012
10:47 am

Haha I love to see all the six-year-olds claiming to be first when they’re really not. Anyway, I don’t really have as much of a problem with Franks fair catching as I do with the small amount of yards he gets on the ones he returns. But I’m probably one of the few that thought Rossum was over-rated.

Drinking the water from a toilet.

December 20th, 2012
10:47 am

Franks returns punts. Rodgers returns the kicks. You need to research before you post.

ATL/UGA #1 fan

December 20th, 2012
11:04 am

jULIO JONES IN THE PLAYOFFS RETURNING PUNTS! OR ANTIONE SMITH

btwarren

December 20th, 2012
11:06 am

Only make the change if necessary in a play off game if we are behind or something like tht. Right now Franks fair catching hasn’t cost us anything. You do recall when he did try to return a punt against the giants he fumbled it. Don’t won’t HD getting hurt returning punts. our other receivers are too inexperienced to be counted on in the playoffs. And we all know that HD can make some big contributions at times when other teams forget about him. See big play against gianst who were focused on Julio.

Captain Crazy

December 20th, 2012
11:20 am

Phair-catch Phranks – Phunny! At phirst I thought it was a good idea, but I, too, don’t want HD to get hurt returning punts. The status quo has given the Birds a 12-2 record. If it ain’t broke, don’t phix it!

warfalcon

December 20th, 2012
11:26 am

ONE GAME AT A TIME,LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

old falc

December 20th, 2012
11:44 am

tim toone is a good return man but he’s a w/r

I Concur

December 20th, 2012
11:55 am

He hasn’t had too many opportunities to bring one back. I do agree there are probably better options, but go back and watch. He usually has someone bearing down on him almost immediately. He did have at least one chance in the NYG game, and…he fumbled.

Yeah, let’s see what HD can do.

D. Franks

December 20th, 2012
11:58 am

I hate y’all!

SawThat1nce

December 20th, 2012
12:09 pm

When he calls for a fair catch, and then he lets the ball hit the turf and roll for 20 yards, does that still qualify as a fair catch?
How many times has he done that this season? I know that I have seen him do it a lot of times.
That has cost the Falcons good field position, too many times.

SawThat1nce

December 20th, 2012
12:26 pm

@10:32……..When you recieve a “kickoff” on the ten, then what other options do you have, but to return the “kickoff”?

chc4

December 20th, 2012
12:30 pm

Huge sigh of relief when he does call for the fair catch. On returns he carries the ball like a loaf of bread. A turnover waiting to happen. He got really lucky in the NYG game.

Sonic Boom

December 20th, 2012
12:39 pm

I wouldn’t put HD back there to return punts. We’d be risking too much with our 3rd receiver. I’d rather have DF fair-catching and letting the offense do its thing than having him risking a fumble (like in the Giant’s game).

DP

December 20th, 2012
12:41 pm

Julio Jones returned a few punts at Alabama when the regular returner Javier Arenas was hurt, and he looked good doing it. You’ve got to use your weapons in the playoffs. Put Julio back there.

Tommy

December 20th, 2012
12:46 pm

Which is worse–Franks calling for the fair catch and actually catching the ball, or Weems last season waving for the fair catch, letting it go over his head and the other team downing it at the one? That seemed to happen at least once a game last year, and field position was a big factor in last year’s good-but-not-great results.

Weems’ big returns were on kickoffs, not punt returns. And putting Douglas back there sounds great until he gets plastered on a return and we’re missing our #3 wideout

Mario

December 20th, 2012
12:48 pm

He needs to. Douglas is dangerous at punt returner. Franks runs litle bit then gets tackled. He never gives our offense great field position. Douglas should be the guy, but he won’t. Our coaching staff won’t change anything up in the playoffs.

Mario

December 20th, 2012
12:51 pm

DP, thats the dumbest thing I think I’ve ever read. Put Julio back there? No way. He’ll be gassed. Remember, after a punt return, the offense is on the field. Julio would be gassed by the 4th. We need him at receiver. Harry Douglas would be great at punt returner or even Jacquizz Rodgers. Somebody with a spark.

Samuel

December 20th, 2012
12:53 pm

I think the only reason Harry Douglas is not returning kicks is, the coaching staff doesn’t want him hurt, because one of the receivers could go down. And he would have to fill in as a number two wideout. But in the playoffs there could be someone else at that position.So Dominque Franks you need to step your game up against the Lions. And get Matt Ryan & company some good field position…

vesaversa

December 20th, 2012
12:56 pm

Fair catch Frank. lmbo
When the Falcons are on their game it doesn’t matter what field position they start from .The Giants game were a good exampled of that. Douglas i believe is the fastest of the two but who have the sure hands is what matter most .

okeetee

December 20th, 2012
12:57 pm

Hey, I hope Franks gets to fair catch 10 punts a game in the playoffs! That means our defense is holding up really good!

ronhen24

December 20th, 2012
1:20 pm

I do not care who return them as long as the run up the field. Dominique Franks is a horrible return man. I like the guy, but he does not have great awareness of where the gunners are at. This causes him to wave the hand a bit early and fair catch everything. I hate it and I said this before that it is and will be our achilles heel. I hope HD get the opportunity to return, because he secures the ball, scan quickly and go. Franks faking dead air space doesn’t get it. Please! Make it happen Coach Reynolds. D-LED, that my be a good discussion question.

Go Deep

December 20th, 2012
1:30 pm

-=| I love all the X Spurts |=- I’ll take Matty Ice on the 20 anyday. o_o

Ebenezer S.

December 20th, 2012
1:35 pm

Bah! Hambug! All Franks has to do is catch the ball and not waste a single effort in returning it, it’s a waste of effort. Let the offense do what they are very handsomely paid to do, advancing the ball!

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

December 20th, 2012
1:41 pm

Anyone wanting julio jones returning punts is just retarded, why would you risk ur biggest playmaker on a lousy punt return, are you trying to ruin the team, let tim toone return some or antone smith.

sean

December 20th, 2012
2:04 pm

fair catches = no turnovers on special teams an our offense on the field

TUG MAN

December 20th, 2012
2:07 pm

I SEEN BILLY WHITE SHOES AT THE MALL. HE LOOK LIKE HE STILL CAN PLAY PUT HIM BACK THERE COACH!!!!!!!!!!

Esquire

December 20th, 2012
2:13 pm

SawThat1nce
December 20th, 2012
12:26 pm

@10:32……..When you recieve a “kickoff” on the ten, then what other options do you have, but to return the “kickoff”?

***************************************************

I agree! HUH? What choo talkin’ bout Willis?

WE ARE THE MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS!!!!

Doug

December 20th, 2012
2:15 pm

I agree with “sean.” DOL, how many fumbles/muffs does Franks have this year? It would be great if he could get 10yds per return (make one of the 1st Downs on that drive), but with this offense and our kicker I’m happy to just get the ball with no drama. Imagine what a lift it would be to a team we had the lead on in the playoffs if they recover a fumble because of a reckless fumble on a punt?

Surg

December 20th, 2012
2:37 pm

I would rather keep Franks back there, HD hasnt been back there all season. I would hate for him to pull a Kyle Williams at the wrong time. Just field the punts and let the offense do what they do.

Go Falcons..!!

December 20th, 2012
2:45 pm

What scares me about Franks is not his YAC. I notice he tends to hold the ball away from his body when he attempts evasive action…..Thats gonna make me cringe. I’d rather see him fair catch it all day long. fine by me.

Fair catch Franks

December 20th, 2012
3:39 pm

Come on sports fans I am all for playing ot safe but you can’t play scared. Franks needs to field the ball better. Do you remember when Weems took it to the house aganist tampa? The coverage was tight but he made a play. By tje way thanks for the shout out D-led

Loyal Falcon

December 20th, 2012
3:46 pm

Not sure why they don’t have Tim Toone back there returning punts with all the speed he has.

frankie

December 20th, 2012
3:48 pm

As long as they catch the darn ball and not muff it, I could care less who catches punts or kickoffs…

and not fumble during the return….

Go Falcons..!!

December 20th, 2012
3:49 pm

My point exactly. With all due respect to Franks. He’s not Weems. and Yes I do remember that play. Totally blew TB’s minds. I think atlanta was not favored if i remember correctly. Falcons went on to win that game. Go FALCONS..!!

inkspot

December 20th, 2012
3:57 pm

Franks doesn’t look comfortable back there taking punts. Now that could be because the coaching staff has told him to do anything but DON’T MAKE A MISTAKE and so young Dominique (in Atlanta you’ve got to let Dominique fly) is holding back and sort of bunching up his body and trembling before getting tackled because the coaches have coached the life out of him. That, or he just isn’t very good.

FalconJim

December 20th, 2012
4:11 pm

Been wondering why “Fair Catch” Franks was back there in the first place…..I mean, almost anybody would be better than him… ..just sayin’. Mix it up…..try Antone Smith, or Tim Car-toon…..anybody but Franks.

1stn10

December 20th, 2012
4:33 pm

Look…fair catching takes alot of skill. If fair catching was an art…Franks would be Picasso.

Ernie Q.

December 20th, 2012
4:50 pm

New stadium now! Bring back Atlanta Chiefs soccer to MLS and bring US National Team games to ATL.

Great Falconi

December 20th, 2012
4:59 pm

You have to make quick decisions on punt returns. If Franks doesn’t trust his ability enough to catch the ball and run it, then get somebody else out there who is more comfortable making the correct decisions.

bfred

December 20th, 2012
4:59 pm

There is, quite simply, no freaking way the coaches put ANY of our receivers back there. You have to have a special kind of screw loose to be a return guy and the injury rate is through the roof. I’m fine picking up somebody willing to go for it a little more but Douglas? Rogers? JONES? You have to be kidding.

E43

December 20th, 2012
5:06 pm

I see nothing in this article that talks about blocking. This isn’t the same falcons special teams unit. if we’re going to complain about fair catches, then we should at least give examples of situations where he could have made a return but didn’t. Douglass is a bigger piece to the falcons offense. He is also our best punt returner.However, its not worth it to have Douglass back there.