Opinions — many dissenting – continue to flow in on whether the Falcons made the right call with the most bold decision in the NFL draft: trading several draft picks for the right to move up and draft Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.
I understand the concern. The Falcons need defensive help. I’m not oblivious to the 48 points Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay hung on them in the playoffs. I was at the game. But to suggest they didn’t need some help on offense and a potential game-breaker on that side of the ball ignores the obvious.
Overshadowed in that Green Bay game: The Falcons weren’t very good on offense, either. They scored 21 points. But one touchdown was a 102-yard kickoff return. Another was a 48-yard drive, following a Packers’ fumble at midfield. The final touchdown didn’t matter: It came in the fourth quarter when the Falcons already trailed 42-14.
But the best evidence that the Falcons needed some help on offense comes from my pal and former AJC comrade Len Pasquarelli, now of The Sports Xchange. Len wrote a piece making the case for the Falcons’ need for an explosive player on offense.
Here’s a key excerpt:
Despite leading the league in receptions (115), and establishing a single-season franchise record for receiving yards (1,389) in 2010, wide receiver Roddy White averaged a career-worst 12.1 yards per catch. As a team, the Falcons had only 32 receptions of 20 yards or more (the standard most teams, including Atlanta, use to define “explosive” plays) in 2010, next to last in the league. The team’s six plays of 40 yards are more ranked 22nd, and White had only three. By comparison, 18 players had more than that.
The club’s average of 6.46 yards per attempt ranked 25th in the league.
Quarterback Matt Ryan ranked 11th in the league in his rookie season of 2008 with an average of 7.93 yards per attempt. Over the past two seasons, though, his yards per pass attempt was only a combined 6.48 yards, nearly 1 ½ yards less. He was 26th in the NFL in 2010 and 21st in 2009.
So here’s my question: With a few more days to think about it, how do you feel now about the Falcons’ deal for Jones?
By Jeff Schultz