Do the Falcons Need Harry Douglas to Excel?

A Big Loss in 2009 

One of the most painful days for Falcons fans in 2009 was the day that wide receiver Harry Douglas went down with a torn ACL. The budding young slot receiver and dynamic local product (Jonesboro High School) was expecting to have an even bigger year in his sophomore campaign than he did in his superb rookie season. HD, as he’s been nicknamed by some fans, was a quick fan favorite by adding a great burst to the Falcons receiving corps, where he hauled in over 300 yards receiving with a touchdown, 60 yards rushing with a TD, and 226 punt return yards with a touchdown. Even more impressive was the fact that Douglas only took over punt returning duties about halfway through the season and was slowly worked into the lineup as a receiver.

Made His Teammates Better

The guy simply made everyone around him better: being a favorite target for Matt Ryan, stretching the field for Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, and creating space for the running backs. Throw in the fact that HD was known for making big plays (who can forget the crucial third down catches, kickoff return that set up the Bears miracle win, and the electrifying punt return for a TD that put a nail in the coffin of the Panthers in the Dome). Some even believed that Douglas may challenge Jenkins for the number 2 spot. Falcons fans drooled over the fact of having Turner, Roddy, Jenks, Douglas, and Tony Gonzalez on the field at the same time.

A Step Back Without HD

Even though the injury was very painful, many fans believed that the addition of tight end Tony Gonzalez might offset missing Douglas in the lineup and being able to stretch the field. To an extent, this was slightly true with Gonzalez becoming Matt Ryan’s favorite target, but the offense still wasn’t the same without the slot receiver. Roddy White was double-teamed and still found a way to go over 1,000 yards receiving and make his second consecutive Pro Bowl, but it wasn’t easy for him and when they took him out of the game the offense generally sputtered. Michael Jenkins couldn’t take advantage of the single coverages rolled his way and generally had a sub-par year. Tony Gonzalez had another great year with over 800 yards receiving and 6 TDs, but made some really tough catches while being bracketed throughout the season. Lastly, and most importantly, not one single receiver could take advantage of the huge void left by Douglas. Marty Booker played about as well as you’d expect from a 33 year old player signed as an emergency. Brian Finneran was injured again and is not really a slot receiver. Eric Weems missed a huge opportunity where his speed and quickness seemingly translated to the slot position.

Obviously, there were many other factors that contributed to the Falcons taking a step back in 2009, including a plethora of injuries, Matt Ryan’s struggles, a more difficult schedule, and some very poor and predicatable play-calling. Although the Falcons came in at the exact same spot in terms of passing rank (14th) in 2008 and 2009, but Ryan in particular saw a drop-off in completion percentage from 61.1% in 2008 to 58.2% in 2009, 500 less yards passing, and an increase of interceptions (+3). And perhaps the biggest area where Douglas was missed was in the deep passing attack. Ryan went from throwing 15 less passes over 20+ yards (45 in 2008 to 31 in 2009), and 5 less passes of 40+ yards (9 in 2008 to 4 in 2009). Beyond all the stats, the Falcons seemed lost at times when teams successfully double-teamed Roddy White and bracketed Tony Gonzalez.

Is Douglas Necessary for Success?

Back to the original question of how important Harry Douglas is to the Falcons offensive success. The injury rehab is on schedule and is going very well. The advent of medicine and rehab now allows players to get back to their original forms in less than a year, even though most believe its takes a full 2 years to get back to speed, especially for cornerbacks and wide receivers. The Falcons didn’t really address HD’s insurance in the slot through the draft or free agency. Kerry Meier may could have success in the slot with his field awareness and quickness, even though he lacks Douglas’ speed. Eric Weems could take another shot, but he’ll be in a fight for his spot. Brian Finneran and Brandyn Harvey are more possession receivers and Ryan Wolfe will be in a major fight just to make the squad. So the question remains: do the Falcons need Harry Douglas back in full form to play at a high level on offense?

Your Turn

-How crushed were you when HD went down last year?

-How much did the Falcons miss Harry Douglas in 2009?

-Is a healthy Douglas essential for a high powered offense?

-Are you concerned about HD’s rehab?

-What expectations do you have for Douglas this season?

-Can anyone feel the void if his recovery is slow?

 

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76 comments Add your comment

waynester

June 1st, 2010
11:21 pm

In answer to your final question, Absolutely. We’ve invested a great deal of time and energy in HD and definitely need him to perform at a high level because (as you noted) no one else got the job done last season and we have yet to fill the void. It’s vital that someone step up and take some pressure off Ryan…

Toby

June 1st, 2010
11:21 pm

YES. Yes, Yes Falcons need HD. Made n=me want to cry when he got hurt last year,I had such high expetations for him.

Toby

June 1st, 2010
11:22 pm

make that expectations

ATLJBO

June 1st, 2010
11:57 pm

Yea.. I think HD is very important to our team because he is our 2nd best WR… We missed that explosive slot guy…

I also think Harry would have took some snaps as the #2 WR also…..

During the 2008 draft i remember Chris Carter (future HOFer) called HD a faster/better version of Wes Welker (something like that) … Thats huge

quote
Cris Carter told the world that, “Wes Welker is not as good a football player as Harry Douglas is right now.” Welker, you may recall, is a Pro-Bowler who just tied the NFL record for receptions in a season. Ron Jaworski joined the fun near the tail end of the broadcast, calling Douglas the “best pick of the second day.”

quote

Thats how important HD is to this team…. Like i said earlier… Our 2nd best WR.

Check out the HD highlight video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsUrj-Z7b3w

Ed

June 2nd, 2010
1:38 am

Your tireless efforts are most appreciated D3. Absolutely we need HD back as close to normal as possible. It’s still a stunner to me we didn’t address the WR position more seriously, only opting for possesion receivers for the most part (and low in the draft also).

Tim

June 2nd, 2010
3:37 am

When HD went down I was hoping some one would step up, but after a few games nobody was ,Jenks wasn’t looking very good either. Then Jerry went down then Jrock,Turner,Mat the season it was awesome that we came back to get back to back. The old Falcons would have been 3 or 4 wins with a high draft pick. These Falcons will be deep at almost all positions, just need HD or another rec. to step up this year Roddy and Gonzo can’t do it all.WE WILL BE UNSTOPPABLE IF WE’RE BACK TO FULL STRENGTH.

theriddler

June 2nd, 2010
4:49 am

I would think so. Consider the nightmare of a R White injury to the receiving corp. That’s scary. The cupboards seem bare.

Ed

June 2nd, 2010
4:55 am

This from nfl.com…pay special attention to numbers 1, 3, & 17

There are several players that look ready to take a similar (speaking about bursting onto the scene) step and emerge in 2010. None of them were first-round picks or have been to a Pro Bowl.

The 20 players in position to make a jump are listed in alphabetical order:

1. Kroy Biermann, Atlanta Falcons, DE: The 2008 fifth-round pick from Montana had five sacks a year ago and is capable of a 10-sack campaign with his nonstop motor. Is he headed for a career path like Kyle Vanden Bosch? Oh by the way, he can kickoff when need be.

2. Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals, DE: He is a rare athlete and a guy that went from zero sacks to seven last season, four of which were half sacks. He also had five passes defensed at 6-foot-8. In talking with him about this article, he’s so humble and focused on being great that he might be my lock to make it.

3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, RB: Is he the next Chris Johnson? He went from 629 total yards rushing and receiving to 1,417 from his first to second season. As the offense matures, he could hit 2,000 yards from scrimmage.

4. Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts, WR: The 2009 fourth-round pick has become a trusted target for Peyton Manning and rarely leaves his quarterback when the offense is on the sideline. He caught 60 passes for seven touchdowns as a rookie.

5. Fred Davis, Washington Redskins, TE: Coach Mike Shanahan likes to build a significant role for the tight end (Shannon Sharpe). Donovan McNabb likes to throw to the tight end. And Davis had a 45-reception improvement between 2008 and 2009 to go with six scores.

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6. Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta Falcons, S: Had a conversation with DeCoud this week and this cool, calm athlete is ready for the big time. In 2009, his first season as a starter, he had 68 tackles, seven passes defensed, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Still, he feels he has plenty of work to do.

7. Early Doucet, Arizona Cardinals, WR: Part of the reason the Cardinals felt they could trade Anquan Boldin was Doucet’s development. His numbers are still low but he will make a big jump in production.

8. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, TE: A very talented tight end who still has to iron out maturity issues. He went from six receptions in 2008 to 55 a year ago. The sky is the limit for this guy, and with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, he could jump to the 80 range.

9. Shonn Greene, New York Jets, RB: The Jets let Thomas Jones go and traded away Leon Washington. LaDainian Tomlinson came on board, but Green is going to be the “bell cow” for a team that ran more than any other in the NFL a year ago. He averaged 5.0 yards a carry as a rookie but did fumble three times in 108 carries.

10. Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins, QB: Now the clear-cut starter, Henne has Brandon Marshall running routes. He threw for 2,878 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter and could reach 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns this year.

11. Tyrell Johnson, Minnesota Vikings, S: A 2008 second-round pick out of Arkansas State, he’s still learning the pro game. He’s an excellent athlete and plays on a defense that opposing teams don’t even try to run on some weeks. That’s a lot of pressure on the safeties to defend the pass. He had 57 tackles and seven passes defensed a season ago.

12. Terrance Knighton, Jacksonville Jaguars, DT: I was impressed with the 2009 third-round pick at camp last summer and he didn’t disappoint as a rookie. He started 16 games and finished with 45 tackles and 1.5 sacks. After an offseason in the weight room, this 325-pound nose tackle will be a force inside.

McNabb’s shadow still looms for Kolb
Eagles QB Kevin Kolb has gained full control of the offense, but it won’t be easy to live up to the standard Donovan McNabb set in Philadelphia, writes Vic Carucci. More … 13. Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles, QB: It says a lot when a team trades a franchise quarterback to a division rival and hands the offense to someone who wasn’t a first-round pick and has just two career starts. Coach Andy Reid likes to throw the ball, so look for Kolb to be up around 500 pass attempts. Both of his starts resulted in 300-yard passing games. While he won’t keep up that pace, the numbers could add up with that many attempts.

14. Kendall Langford, Miami Dolphins, DE: Production for 3-4 ends can’t always be measured in stats. Kendall started 13 games a year ago and had 45 tackles to go with 2.5 sacks. He has the talent to dominate the line of scrimmage.

15. James Laurinaitis, St. Louis Rams, LB: As a second-round pick last year, he put up 120 tackles, five passes defended, two interceptions, two sacks and a forced fumble. He might get overlooked as the Rams struggle, but he could easily have 150 tackles this season.

16. DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lions, LB: Another guy who will go unnoticed on a team without high expectations. The third-round pick from 2009 finished up with 85 tackles in 10 starts. In talking with coach Jim Schwartz several times about this young man, Levy’s headed for big things this year, especially with a better defensive line in front of him.

17. Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons, LB: Curtis has probably been overlooked a bit. He had 94 tackles as a rookie and came back last season with 133. Ask anyone who follows the Falcons and they will tell you he’s already a star.

18. Jerraud Powers, Indianapolis Colts, CB: The Colts have had to deal with injuries and players leaving in the secondary as the majority of their competition has to play from behind against them. That puts a lot of pressure on the corners and Powers came thru as a rookie with 66 tackles, 10 passes defensed and a pick. Not bad for a third-round selection.

19. Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots, OT: I first met Vollmer when he played in the NFL world junior championships as a member of the German team. He was just a big kid then, trying to learn an American game. He has come a long way in a short time, starting eight games as a rookie last seaosn and protecting Tom Brady’s blindside. He could be on the verge of a Michael Roos-type career.

20. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers, WR: Santonio Holmes is gone and Wallace is the answer. With an aging Hines Ward and an injured Limas Sweed, the time is right for Wallace to explode. He had 39 receptions for 756 yards and six touchdowns in his first season and might venture into the 75-reception range in 2010.

theriddler

June 2nd, 2010
4:57 am

I’m old school but the rules favor the passing game now and I would have thought more emphasis would have been put into stockpiling serviceable receivers by now. Rookies seem to take a few years to deliver at this position.

Ken Strickland

June 2nd, 2010
7:26 am

THERIDLER-the Falcons are still a rush first team, and stockpiling receivers isn’t a major priority. Getting the right kind of receivers is our priority, which is why HDouglas’ speed, quickness and open field, big play running ability is so important. It’s also important for us to have reliable possession receivers like BFinneran, which is why we drafted Meir.

We aren’t a volume passing team, so our emphasis is focused more on quality receivers with specific skills, rather than quantity. Being primarily a rushing team that tries to achieve more OFF balance, our main focus is on stockpiling OLinemen that are versatile enough to effectively run and pass block, rather than receivers.

jason

June 2nd, 2010
10:01 am

Morning CAGE. I have to say that HD is almost as valuable to the success of the team’s passing attack as RW is. HD makes all the WRs better. Jenk had a career year HD’s rookie campaign. In all truth, HD is your #2 WR; he just plays the slot. Jenk is your #3. Jenk plays the 2 WR set because he is the best blocking WR next to Finn. HD will also cut the bracketting down on Gonzo, and also go back to limiting the double teams RW faces every week. It all depends on the continued pace HD is recovering and also how fast he gets back to his old self. There is a reason Matty Ice’s numbers went down. He lost his second most dependable WR.

SeminoleWarrior

June 2nd, 2010
10:40 am

Good morning Cage Family.

K Strick is on target. I still think, fundamentally, that we are a running team. Smitty emphasized that point when he came aboard three years ago. Strick is correct in his analysis that the OL is in a state of transformation, one that will ensure improvements in both pass and run blocking as well as ensuring quality, sustainable depth on the OL. That hurt us last year and TD/Smitty are not going to let that be an issue again this season.

As far as HD goes, most of the Cage family know that I have been quite vocal in saying that the intermediate passing game is MR2’s strength. It is where he excelled at BC and had his best success in his rookie season. It suffered greatly last season. TG88 was doubled and often stayed home to aid in blocking assignments. MJ12 suffered intermittent bouts of DBD (dropped ball disease) for which I hope he has found a suitable treatment. No other receiver really stepped up to augment RW84 and no one really shined in the intermediate game. That is where HD comes into play. Meier and HD give us a dynamic pair in that facet of the game. Meier is deceitfully quick and he knows what to do with the ball when it is in his hands. HD is HD; a threat to make a big play each time he touches the ball. So I think the two of them will be fine in the intermediate game.

Throw in Fin and the sleeper in the mix, Brandyn Harvey, and we have a very deep WR corps. The six of them (RW, MJ, HD, BF, KM, and BH) give us size, speed, versatility, improved blocking, and the ability to stretch the field vertically and in the intermediate game. I like the look of this corps and with Coach Rob as their mentor, the upside is tremendous.

SeminoleWarrior

June 2nd, 2010
10:44 am

Jason, well stated my brother.

SeminoleWarrior

June 2nd, 2010
10:46 am

Ed, count on it. All three are emerging talents that will become perennial Pro Bowlers. This defense is about to shock the hell out of the entire NFL.

Like Colonel Steve Austin, we are stronger, faster, and will be better. And the league had better recognize. On second thought, let them keep doubting us. That makes victory so much sweeter!!

CBrass

June 2nd, 2010
11:29 am

I will be honest and say that I thought with the fire power on O last season that losing HD wouldn’t hurt as much. However, as the season progressed I started to see how much his absence was hurting the O and the fact that Turner took so long to get going. I do not see HD returning to form(gaining his speed bad) until the last 4 or 5 games of the season.

As always D3 great job!!!!!

SeminoleWarrior

June 2nd, 2010
11:31 am

CBrass, great point about the transition back to full capability for HD. That is why I see us being unusually deep in the WR corps this season with Harvey and Meier the leading candidates to make the cut.

CBrass

June 2nd, 2010
11:35 am

SW,

Yea. I just hope Rolfe will not be plunked off of the practice squad by anyone. He will take Finn’s spot next season or if he suffers another injury. In reading between the lines I can see that you think Weems will be cut. Am I correct in thinking that?

SeminoleWarrior

June 2nd, 2010
11:39 am

CB, Weems will be released I think. I like the size and the depth we added to the corps. Weems had his chance to significantly help himself. His value has taken a hit in terms of his value to the return game as well as an alternate WR.

I keep forgetting about Ryan Wolfe. I guess because, as you know, I was intensely focused on Harvey and Meier at the mini- camp. Will have to keep an eye on him once training camp and preseason unfold.

CBrass

June 2nd, 2010
11:51 am

SW,

I can see that and I agree with you on Weems. Also as Unca’ Bob pointed out that hidden DUI may play a factor in it. Usually with TD and Smitty if a young player is not on the field by the latter part of the season they may not have what it takes.

John Waynesworld

June 2nd, 2010
1:36 pm

If the defensive secondary continues to gel with the existing personnel, why not give Dominique Franks a look at slot receiver? He is a super quick ball hawk with good hands and breakaway speed. At least he would get more playing time as a rotational WR while he waits for punt/kickoff returns or defensive nickel and dime packages. It could also be a good learning tool for Franks.

John Waynesworld

June 2nd, 2010
1:42 pm

Ken Strickland

June 2nd, 2010
2:25 pm

WAYNESWORLD-I didn’t see a single CON in Franks scouting report that can’t be corrected with good coaching, which we certainly have. What he does have in abundance are PRO’s that can’t be coached up, like speed, quickness, athleticism and playmaking ability.

It still amazes me how quickly TD and Smitty have been able to turn team weaknesses into strength’s in just one draft. We’ve really accumulated a tremendous amount of talent through the draft, especially at the skill positions, and only 6 are 1st rd draft picks(QB MRyan, LT SBaker, OLB SWeatherspoon, DT PJerry & WR’s RWhite/MJenkins).

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Troy Heinzman, Dawson Devitt. Dawson Devitt said: http://bit.ly/9NTpB5 – How big was the loss of Harry Douglas on the Atlanta Falcons last year? Do they need HD to excel on offense? [...]

Ken Strickland

June 2nd, 2010
6:06 pm

Let’s take into account how well we played down the stretch last yr with all of our injuries, especially in that 3pt Saints loss. Then consider how many Saints players had to have career, or near career, yrs in order for them to have achieved the success they had last yr. Do you realistically expect:

(1) All of those Saint players to have back to back career or near career yrs,

(2) The Falcons to have all of those key injuries in back to back yrs, and DE JAbraham to have another down yr?

What have the Saints really done to improve themselves? If the Falcons get the following:

(1) Excellent play from CB DRobinson,

(2) A rebound yr from DE JAbraham,

(3) another solid yr from DE KBiermann, but this time as a starter,

(4) increased production from DE LSidbury, replacing DE KBiermann in the rotation,

(5) improved pressure from our DT’s,

(6) improved OLB play from SNicholas and SWeatherspoon,

(7) improved play from our safeties,

(8) The return from injury and/or to form of RB’s MTurner/JNorwood, QB MRyan, WR HDouglas, LT SBaker, RG HDahl, FS WMoore, CB BWilliams & OLB RJames,

(9) A solid kicking gm, and

(10) Improved play calling and player utilization from OC MMularkey,

do you really think they will be able to defeat us? Remember, the last time the Saints had an outstanding season, they ended up finishing last in our division with an 8-8 record. Unless they avoid the injury bug, and their key players duplicate their career or near career yrs, they will likely fall on their faces again. Also, we’re not nearly as dependent upon one player(QB DBrees)as they are.

Sarah B

June 2nd, 2010
6:56 pm

I’m back and YES Harry Douglas will play a HUGE roll this year! Well he better I just shelled out my season ticket money.

CBrass

June 2nd, 2010
7:03 pm

Ken,

Your #8 point makes me realize many many players we lost to injury. Loved your entire post!!!

CBrass

June 2nd, 2010
7:05 pm

Sarah,

Where the heck have you been girl? Thought I was going to have to send out a search party. Good to have you back.

JJ

June 2nd, 2010
7:39 pm

D3, great job.

Sarah, where you been girl?

thunderbull56

June 2nd, 2010
7:51 pm

Never knew a void could be felt.HD showed me plenty in ‘08.Yes I knashed my teeth when no sooner had we traded Robinson did HD go down.Seemed like a bad omen for what was a promising season.Soon it was like someone in New Orleans had VooDoo Dolls of all our players.Still, we broke the curse.

Sarah B

June 2nd, 2010
8:02 pm

I took a break. But Ya’ll been on my mind. And I’ve been reading your comments. I’ve mostly been looking for a job. Anybody got anything?

crabapplejoe

June 2nd, 2010
8:06 pm

@ATLJBO: Saying that Harry Douglas (career 23 receptions/320 yards/ 1 TD) is better than Wes Welker….a man who has caught more passes than anyone else in the NFL the last three years might just be a bit of a stretch…LOL. I’m here to tell you that Kerry Meier is better than Randy Moss!

ATLJBO

June 2nd, 2010
8:35 pm

crabapplejoe

I didnt say that… I posted a quote from Chris Carter… Chris Carter basically said he thinks Harry Douglas will be a better slot WR then Wes. (during the 2008 draft).. Jaws said Harry Douglas was the best 2nd day pick in that draft.

Like i said.. I didnt say it…. I’m just putting what a future HOF WR said….

Go up there and read it again

Bangkapi Ajarn

June 2nd, 2010
9:05 pm

Keep em coming, D3, great job! Agree with you down the line on this one.

-How crushed were you when HD went down last year?
Not so much to be honest. I didn’t realize how many dominos were balanced on his ability to stretch the field, since he isn’t an official starter. In retrospect it was a very big deal.

-How much did the Falcons miss Harry Douglas in 2009?
Quite a bit, since Jenkins, Weems, Booker and so on and so forth didn’t step up and avail themselves of the opportunity (see Kroy for how that is done). It allowed teams to concentrate on White and TonyG more, and made Matty Ice ditch more throws when his progressions came up dry. Returns suffered as the season progressed as well.

-Is a healthy Douglas essential for a high powered offense?
Not as much this year with three new potential contributors trying to make the team. Having said that, the Falcons ARE better with a healthy HD IF he returns 100% (no where near a sure thing, maybe why so much WR talent is coming to training camp)? I won’t be shocked if HD starts the season on IR to get up to 100% speed if all three rookies impress sufficiently. Then, heal up and rejoin the rotation when another of the WR’s go down or fails to produce. Cynical? perhaps, but TD and Smitty may look at it as being prudent. I don’t see HD as part of the return team this year.

-Are you concerned about HD’s rehab?
YES

-What expectations do you have for Douglas this season?
Start slow, finish hot, shine in the playoffs, the odd surprise return later in the season if he stays healthy.

-Can anyone feel the void if his recovery is slow?
Sadly, I am getting used to it and am beginning to rationalize it since he has yet to do a full practice, make some strong cuts, or take a hit

CBrass

June 2nd, 2010
9:19 pm

BA,

I thought if a player is put on IR then he has to remain there for the rest of the season.

Birdman

June 2nd, 2010
10:13 pm

Great reads cage . The only thing that I am concerned with is . He may be injury prone ( HD ) .I think that will be an issue with him . I hope I am wrong . He will be huge plus if he stays healthy though.

crabapplejoe

June 2nd, 2010
10:31 pm

@ATLJBO @11:57: “Cris Carter told the world that, “Wes Welker is not as good a football player as Harry Douglas is right now.”

That doesn’t sound like “Harry Douglas will be a better slot receiver than Wes” that you stated at 8:35. “Right now” and “will be” are two different thoughts. I assumed that, since you quoted Carter as saying “right now” you were buying into Carter’s position that Harry Douglas is as good “right now”….You and Chris Carter can get back to me if HD catches 350 balls over the next three years…..hope he does….but I’m LOL at the thought since nobody in the NFL has done that over the last three years….other than Wes Welker.

Birdman

June 2nd, 2010
10:43 pm

Are I should say gets healthy and stays there .
Great job D3 …I thank you people for your post . I love to read something , anything about this team.
Wish there were a way to pull this season closer . I can,t wait to see them play!!!!

ATLJBO

June 2nd, 2010
10:52 pm

crabapplejoe

You know what they say about ppl that assume…. Calm down… No way do i think Harry Douglas is better then Wes Welker…. The guy is a multiple probowler (Welker)…. I do think Harry can be a great slot WR and is our 2nd best WR on this team… I put Chris Carter quote to show that a great WR thinks Harry is good…. The question was … Do the Falcons Need Harry Douglas to Excel ? … Yea we do need Harry because he is our 2nd best WR.

D3

June 2nd, 2010
11:20 pm

Great Convo’s Cage! — Glad to see everyone is doing well as we kickoff our summer, No-Falcons-Football season. Make sure to stay tuned into The Cage to keep your Falcons and Football Fix through these dry, sandstorms.

HD the Man —
I had the pleasure of meeting Harry Douglas way before he was drafted by the Falcons and he was still a receiver at Louisville. Great player, but even better man. Nice, polite, humble. It was a joy meeting him. I teach at the middle school he went to, and he’s a person I use as inspiration to my students all the time. So obviously, he quickly became one of my favorite players, even before he wowed the Dome.

The guy just made plays and added a much needed electricity to the Falcons offense. It really was a perfect storm in 2008 with the advent of Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, the OL, and the new offensive schemes, but many may not have realized the impact that HD brought to our offense. He simply made it impossible for any defense to key on Roddy or Michael Turner, and to his credit, Michael Jenkins did make plays in one-on-one coverage that year. But the big credit goes to HD, his routes, his catching ability, but most importantly his playmaking after the catch. The idea for defenses was to load the box for Turner and double cover Roddy and make Ryan beat them. HD allowed that to happen. All those throwaways that Ice had this year, were dumpoffs or digs to Douglas in 2008.

Some of the best memories I have of 2008 included Douglas. There were several huge 3rd down catches that HD had, but one (Chicago or Carolina at home, can’t remember which) was 3rd and long fairly late in the game, and HD caught a curl short of the first down marker, shrugged the defender, and jolted another 30 yards that sent the Dome crowd into overdrive. The reverses, the punt returns, and just the feeling that fans got when HD touched the ball was amazing. He got better and better as the season went on. And all of this was pre-Gonz (the best TE to play the game). Many believed (I tried to desperately rationalize it wasn’t a huge loss, but it was) that Gonzo could fill that gap, but the speed and versatility that he brought couldn’t be filled.

D3

June 2nd, 2010
11:37 pm

The second part was trying to make myself believe that one of the other receivers could fill the void, even though I had a pretty good idea when they brought Robert Ferguson and Marty Booker in to compete. We had a ton of young undrafted free agents then in Brandon Godfrey, Troy Bergeron, Darren Mougey, and Aaron Kelly. I suppose that we’re technically still in the same boat this year, but I believe that Meier, Wolfe, and Harvey bring a more hopeful element than last year’s crew.

I’ve tried time and time again to understand why no receiver could fill HD’s void, and initially I couldn’t wrap my head around it and still have trouble. One fact is that the WR corps of 2008 was such a good complement. You had the Pro Bowler in Roddy, the tall possession receiver in Jenks, the burner slot in HD, tough and gritty all-around possession WR in BFinn, and oft-injured Laurent Robinson. We know what we have in Roddy and Jenks this year, but beyond that its a big toss-up. We’d all love to have HD back in full form, but we have to hope that someone, anyone can step up if needed. Can Weems do it this year? Not sure if it was Mularkey’s play-calling, but the fact remains that Weems couldn’t unseat Marty Booker as the #3 WR option, which doesn’t bode well for this year.

Can Kerry Meier or Ryan Wolfe fill that void this year? Obviously, we don’t know that, but I like their chances. Wolfe and Meier both are quick receivers who run good routes, have great hands, and have played every receiver position on the field. Meier’s early injury bump worries me a little, but hopefully he can become the Falcons #4 receiver, and possibly #3 if HD’s recovery is slow. The big question for Weems is that was his making the squad a product of a really weak WR corps? Or did his hard work just finally pay off? We’ll soon see. Finally, my believe has been and will be that its time to make a youth movement at WR. For instance, if Kerry Meier, Ryan Wolfe, and Brandyn Harvey are even close to Eric Weems and Brian Finneran, than we have to go with the youth movement. Would love to find a way to keep all three (Meier and either Harvey or Wolfe in the 5 WR rotation, with the other on the practice squad), but for some reason I don’t see both Weems and Finneran being gone. If Thomas Dimitroff has to pick up the phone for a veteran free agent off the street, than I will be one pissed off dude. We have the talent to mine, let’s do it.

CBrass

June 3rd, 2010
8:43 am

Maybe a little off subject but I was just over at DOL’s blog and I notice that he said that likely 6 WR’s will make the FINAL roster. If I’m not mistaken that’s 1 more than last season. Right?

John Waynesworld

June 3rd, 2010
9:18 am

D3, I agree about the value of Harry, but I am concerned about how much is being placed on his young shoulders. Has he been hearing what we have heard all these months about how our receiver production depends on his participation and that the reason we struggled last season was because he wasn’t in there? Wow, that’s alot of praise to be worthy of in the NFL. I just hope he keeps his eyes on the road and away from the distracting and sometimes gushing commentary.

I think we keep at least two possibly 3 of our drafted/UDFA rookie receviers this year and I’ll bet one of them plays extensively in our offense and turns from a garnet to a ruby. If Brandyn Harvey can get off the line of scrimmage against elite defenders, I think he’s “The One”.

JJ

June 3rd, 2010
9:20 am

John Waynesworld

June 3rd, 2010
9:33 am

Cbrass, you are right, here’s last year’s numbers:

Sept. 5, 2009 – The final 2009 roster breakdown includes:

~Nine defensive linemen (four tackles, five ends)
~Six linebackers (three starters and a backup at each position)
~10 defensive backs (five cornerbacks and five safeties)
~Five wide receivers (including 11-veteran Marty Booker)
~Three quarterbacks (two will likely be active on gameday)
~Three tight ends (Keith Zinger wins the final spot over Rader)
~Nine offensive linemen (Quinn Ojinnaka continues to backup multiple positions)
~Five running backs (three tailbacks and a pair of ~Fullbacks: Ovie Mughelli and Verron Haynes)
~Two kickers (Jason Elam and Michael Koenen)
~One long-snapper (returning starter Mike Schneck)

Maybe DOL is referring to the final addition of one WR for the practice squad. If not I agree with him about adding another WR to the roster. Load it up!

CBrass

June 3rd, 2010
9:53 am

JWW,

That makes me think that Weems is gone and along with Bergeron. This two could mean room for both Harvey and Wolfe.

John Waynesworld

June 3rd, 2010
10:33 am

Maybe, CBrass, but I thought last year that at least ONE of those young receivers we had could have held on to the final spot like Kelly or Mougay, and what’s with Troy? In every Arena highlight I find he is like Cris Carter the way he catches everything, then he turns invisible in our camp. lack of playing time? Not strong enough? I don’t know. I know Arthur likes him for what he did with the Force. Maybe he can drive a cart. jk

CBrass

June 3rd, 2010
10:46 am

JWW,

I’ve wondered the same thing. Maybe his game is suited more for the Arena league. During mini camp I asked SW and he said that he just can’t get that separation from the corners.

LRD

June 3rd, 2010
10:52 am

HD was sorely missed… and no one stepped up to fill the void. As KS stated in his Top 10 predictable calling… was it even more predictable w.out HD?
Let’s see: We lose HD before the season. White struggles a bit to start the season. Jenkins seems not to have his head on straight, Turner did not have his “burners” on until what 4 games in, and then is injured. Norwood injured..
By this point, we all know the plays to be called… and a run first team is missing main cogs, Snelling is starting to pour it on, but now Gonzo is doubled up as Ryans main target, White is now fully mentally back, Jenk’s still so-so, Norwood is game 2 game not 100% and we do not have another reliable rcvr to fill a void…. and again, We all know what plays are going to be called…
We head into the end of the season, Ryan is still not 100%, Snelling being The Man, Redman did a admirable job in Ryan’s abscense, Norwood still not 100%, no #3 rcvr stepped up to take pressure of White/Gonzo, Jenkins finally seems to be getting his mind back… but going into the last game of the season, we all still know the calls going to be made.
Rambling, I know, but imho having HD out made our predictable play calling even more predictable…and his injury was a harbinger of what was to come with the injury bug. So yes, he is very much a key….even a perceived threat is better than no threat at all. And lets pray for no major injuries this off season.. maybe the bug will pass us by this year

D3

June 3rd, 2010
11:07 am

CBrass & JWW — Excellent insights into our roster spots. I can’t see anyway we keep 6 receivers on our active roster with the uncertainty at DT. We only kept 4 DT’s on our active roster last year, and we would keep Babineaux (who could get anywhere between 2 and 8 games) and Jerry (who could easily start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list), along with say Corey Peters and Vance Walker? Methinks we may drop a safety, CB, or RB to make way for another DT. Can’t see us adding a 6th receiver. If HD’s ready to go at beginning of season, than I could see us taking Roddy, Jenks, HD, Meier, and either Weems, Wolfe or Harvey and one being on the practice sqaud. Like I said earlier, if it’s even close, we need to keep all 3 (Meier, Wolfe, and Harvey. My dream rotation would be Roddy, Jenks, HD, Meier, and Harvey with Wolfe on the practice squad. For Weems, its active roster or bust. Can’t see us putting him on the practice squad again.

Physically Unable to Peform (PUP) Rules — From Wikipedia, Physically Unable to Perform is the term for a rule in the National Football League which allows teams to designate players as “Physically Unable to Perform” or “PUP”. Once they are designated as such, they are prohibited from practicing with the team. They can, however, rehabilitate and participate in team meetings. If a player begins training camp on the PUP list, they can be moved to the active roster at any time, even after one practice. A player is not allowed to be placed on the PUP list if they start training camp on the active roster.

A player who begins the regular season on the PUP list must sit out his team’s first six games. After that point, a team has three weeks to start having the player practice; once the player begins practicing, the team has another three weeks to put the player on the active roster. If the player is not activated by that time, or if he does not begin practicing within that three week window, he must remain on the PUP list for the remainder of the season.

SeminoleWarrior

June 3rd, 2010
11:37 am

Good morning Cage Family….a ongoing great discussion about the WR situation. I will re-state what I said on yesterday. This is my take on the WR corps this season:

The six of them (RW, MJ, HD, BF, KM, and BH) give us size, speed, versatility, improved blocking, and the ability to stretch the field vertically and in the intermediate game. I like the look of this corps and with Coach Rob as their mentor, the upside is tremendous