Roddy White not in denial: ‘I just have to get better’

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White acknowedges he needs to be better. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White admits he needs to play better. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons wore their throwback uniforms last Sunday against New Orleans, and some unfortunate symmetry that day was we witnessed a throwback version of Roddy White.

Until two catches in the team’s next to-last possession of the fourth quarter, White had two catches, two drops and two 15-yard penalties. It was a reminder of the young and immature White who looked like a draft mistake for two seasons, not the player who evolved into a three-time Pro Bowler and a difference-maker who commanded a $48 million contract.

White has not had a great season. He openly admits it. There’s something to be said for that, especially given he plays a position that breeds prima donnas. But if the Falcons’ wide receiver doesn’t start resembling something closer to the player who caught 28 touchdown passes in his previous three seasons and had a career-high 115 receptions last year, there is little chance this Falcons’ season will turn into anything special.

When asked if he needs to perform better, White didn’t hesitate: “Absolutely. I have to make significant plays and game-changing plays for us to win.”

It’s a really nice story that Harry Douglas was targeted 14 times and made eight catches against the Saints. But if Douglas is leaving White (seven targets, four catches) in the dust on the stat sheet, something is wrong.

Roddy White said he welcomed the team's addition of Julio Jones, disputing conjecture that he is "pouting." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Roddy White said he welcomed the team's addition of Julio Jones, disputing conjecture that he is "pouting." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

There are several theories about why White’s production is down. One involves Julio Jones. There is this theory espoused by White’s critics that when the Falcons invested heavily to draft the Alabama wide receiver, it was a shot to White’s ego and he has been pouting ever since. Honestly, I haven’t seen any evidence to support this, but I felt obliged to ask White, anyway. This all goes back to the wide receivers-can-be-high-maintenance theory.

“I’ve never pouted or cried about the situation,” White said. “Julio makes us more explosive. He’s a great player and he’s going to be a great player for a long time. But I look at my stats and it’s not where I want them to be. I’ve had chances to makes plays. I’ve dropped too many balls this year. I just have to get better. I have to find ways to help our team.”

White has 15 catches in the last four games (3.75 per). He had 32 in the first five (6.4). His nine-game totals — 47 catches for 563 yards and three touchdowns – project to 84 catches, 1001 yards and 5 TDs. The reception total, while down from last year, is right at his career average. But the projected yardage and touchdowns would be his worst since his second season in 2006.

There are several potential reasons for the decline. One is obvious: White just needs to be better. He can’t lose his temper every time something goes wrong. Last Sunday, he jumped a New Orleans player who he felt was “mushing [Douglas's] head into the ground after a play” and was flagged for a personal foul.

White gets into trouble when he lets his lack of production lead to a blown fuse. Quoting: “Sometimes you get frustrated when you’ve had success in this league and suddenly things aren’t going your way.”

The other issue is more big picture: design and play-calling. An offense with White, Jones, Douglas, Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers should rank higher than 12th in yardage and 16th in scoring.

That’s on offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, who seemingly is struggling to blend Jones and Rodgers into the offense. White said the offense lacks “chemistry.”

“I feel like we’re really far away from where we need to be,” he said. “We have to figure this thing out. … Last year everything went right for us. We could do no wrong. This year it’s been a whole lot different. Defensive coordinators have found ways to know some of the things we’re doing and they’re dialing up the right coverages for it. … We have to do a better job mixing things up, maybe spread guys out and going to four- and five-wide receiver sets and see what we can do.”

But White knows every scheme requires a playmaker. That’s where he comes in.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

159 comments Add your comment

MatthewH

November 15th, 2011
3:07 pm

Talk is cheap (like this comment) Let’s see it on the field, Roddy!

A pile of sh!t has a 1,000 eyes!

November 15th, 2011
3:14 pm

Second! Just like the Falcons in the South! Let’s go guys – pick it up!

MattRyansBrain

November 15th, 2011
3:17 pm

Mike Mularkey + explosive players = Sum is less than the parts…..

Please dear God and Mike Smith ——–> FIRE MIKE MULARKEY!!

Paul

November 15th, 2011
3:19 pm

Can’t underestimate the value of Finneran and Jenkins on this team as it pertains to White’s maturity.

DurrtyDogg

November 15th, 2011
3:20 pm

Regardless of what he says, drafting Julio did bother him. I mean thats obvious. We know how sensitive he is to begin with so its nothing knew. The problem is simple. Matt Ryan has a weak arm and is terrible with the deep passes. The defensive line is terrible and doesn’t get any push at all. Mike Murlarkey sucks and I truly believe letting Musgrave go really hurt us more than we would admit. He made Matt Ryan. So what do we do now? Nothing. I didn’t believe the Falcons would do anything special because I know during the lockout, they were not doing the things they needed to do. Atlanta is a city that can engulf you if you don’t have your head on right. Think about all the stars that left Atlanta to become great somewhere else. You have to be a man here. Someone who don’t have to be in the night or strip clubs to feel relevant. Until we get those type of athletes, we will always be second, or third best.

oldmike

November 15th, 2011
3:22 pm

The play calling lacks the imagination that defines the great offensive teams. And overlooked in all the rush to judge Ryan as not so hot is the lack of protection he is getting. A significant number of his throws were just before being hit. Brees was able to complete all his progressions and then some. I don’t see him as having that much more escapability than Ryan. With a fraction of a second more time the throws that are just a bit off become right in stride and at the right spot. Maybe that would help us move up statistically?

Matt from MN

November 15th, 2011
3:23 pm

Woe unto us, who are saddled with Mike “Dud, not explosive” Mularkey as our OC.

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

November 15th, 2011
3:24 pm

Its more than obvious that Mularkey is out of his league. The Steelers found this out…why we stick with this guy is beyond me. He is probably a great QB coach, but 4th and inches, with the game on the line, in OT and you…you dial the play that requires a pulling guard??? Remember Dan Reeves’s final year, when he just seemed over his head? Mularkey is calling plays for situations in the 90s. You need a quick pitch to #22, quick dive to #44, or quick QB sneak. SOMETHING OTHER THAN TURNER UP THE GUT!!!!

Norv Turner will be available for the role he was made for in the off season: Offensive Coordinator. Go get him and watch Matt Ryan come alive with these tools. TD, please do something.

FBD

DJ Sniper

November 15th, 2011
3:24 pm

I was actually starting to give Mike Mularkey credit for the way we performed over the the past 3 games, but then he went back into his conservative shell for the Saints game. When will Smitty get it through his skull that this offense will never be top notch with MM calling the shots?

Michael M.

November 15th, 2011
3:25 pm

I been on that guy today earlier on Ledbetter’s blog………….somebody read my mind ! a $48 million contract and Ill get out there and catch the darn ball !

Still think they messed up letting go of Brian Finneran and Michael Jenkins

PMC

November 15th, 2011
3:26 pm

Love Roddy’s passion and desire to win and have fun doing it. I hope he can get his mind right and start playing like he’s capable the rest of the year.

oldfart

November 15th, 2011
3:27 pm

The penalties hurt but I’m more concerned with the drops. How can you expect a QB to look your way when you let them go through your hands, one for an interception. This should only be a rare thing from an “elite” receiver much like TG.

The ultimate difference I saw in the passing games this past Sunday however were how many times Ryan was picking himself up after the pass and how seldom, extremely seldom you saw Brees getting a hand laid on him. Unfortunately for the Falcons’ passing game this year that has been a more common occurrence than last year. They should have given some of that Julio money to Harvey Dahl if not more offensive linemen.

Jimmy Crack

November 15th, 2011
3:29 pm

Get yer nose in the game, Roddy! STOP WITH THE TEXTING/TWITTERING/TWEETING WHATEVER!!

Mularkey’s thinking…”Well, they THINK we’re going to sneak it, but last time we ran it, but they may think we may call a fake and pass, but maybe they’re gonna play the sneak and we normally don’t run it twice, but we are a running team, soooooooooo…

I’LL RUN MY SLOWEST GUY UP THE MIDDLE FROM 5 YARDS BACK!

What a genius.

DJ Sniper

November 15th, 2011
3:29 pm

Bailey, I didn’t even think about Norv Turner. Right now, we don’t know for sure if the Chargers will let him go after this season (although I couldn’t disagree with them if they did), but I agree with you that he works much better as an OC than a HC. Another name to possibly think about is Smitty’s BIL, Brian Billick. Even though his Ravens teams were known for defense, people forget that he put together some pretty nice offenses with the Vikings.

oldfart

November 15th, 2011
3:31 pm

Enter your comments here

WitStream

November 15th, 2011
3:32 pm

Hopefully we’ll get a similar admission from whoever thought a bunched-up off tackle run was a better idea than spreading the field and running a simple QB sneak. Its just bewildering to think lifetime football men are too dense to make that elementary call.

This coaching coupled with being married to a QB who can’t throw deep or create anything when a play breaks down means this team is going nowhere notable any time soon. It’s almost a good thing the Packers appear unbeatable anyway, to help lessen the disappointment.

Tom D: if you have a pair, you trade Ryan for a nice number of draft picks and try again. Thanks.

PMC

November 15th, 2011
3:35 pm

I like that he sticks up for his teammates too but on that, he’s got to keep his head walk back to the huddle and let Joe Hawley or Todd McClure know that 54 needs to get clipped on the next play. If there’s anything that we owe the saints….. they should be bleeding and broken after the december game.

PMC

November 15th, 2011
3:36 pm

If we’re getting 15 yard penalties, they should be late hits on Brees

DJ Sniper

November 15th, 2011
3:41 pm

I don’t agree with the school of thought that Matt Ryan should be traded. Is he perfect? Not at all. Does his deep ball need work? Absolutely. I don’t disagree with that one bit. Still, this is a QB driven league, and he has had more success than just about anybody who has been under center for this franchise.

As far as arm strenght goes, can anybody tell me if QB’s are able to improve on that over time? If I recall correctly, Tom Brady wasn’t regarded as having the strongest arm when he was drafted, and now he seems to do just fine.

SeenThisB4

November 15th, 2011
3:42 pm

“Late hit on Brees.” LOL! Hell, even the Rams got hits on Brees, sacked him like 5 times! THE RAMS! I’m glad we don’t have to play them twice a year!

Fish Bisch

November 15th, 2011
3:47 pm

Julio is from a big time college footbal factory in Alabama and White is from cupcake UAB. Just sayin’

Richard

November 15th, 2011
3:52 pm

Pass protection and play calling. I caught a bit of the Patriots game the other day and he has FOREVER in the pocket to find an open guy. Matt Ryan would have been sacked 3 times in the amount of time Brady has in the pocket almost every play. It really affects his accuacy on the deep passes because he has to get rid of the ball early.

Play calling is pathetic. Never a trick play to keep the safeties back. It’s always Turner up the middle or a short pass. No one can make the claim that White, Douglas, and Jones can’t catch a deep ball with a straight face. MM needs to go.

DJ Sniper

November 15th, 2011
3:58 pm

The pass protection has improved ever since Will Svitek and Joe Hawley took over at LT and RG respectively, but overall, there’s still room to grow and get better.

tp

November 15th, 2011
4:00 pm

A three or four receiver look is what I would have liked to see on that blown 4th down in overtime.

I hurts me to state this, because Matt Ryan seems to be the epitome of class as a player and person, but he just can’t throw a ball consistently well past 20-25 yards. I really don’t think it’s a question of arm strength; I think it’s a question of confidence. Just throw it out there on a line, Matt, and see what happens!

Jim R.

November 15th, 2011
4:03 pm

Brian Billick as head coach would be a superb hire, with Norv Turner as Offensive Coordinator.

jlperry

November 15th, 2011
4:04 pm

Roddy you are going thought a wide receiver slump get more foucs and throw more block and keep your head and play the game i do not care if you did come from UAB. just play the game .Rember you are not the only wide to go thought a slump T.O. had slump to and so did many other.

Jim R.

November 15th, 2011
4:05 pm

In addition, Brian Billick, as an offensive coordinator at Minnesota, was the big reason for their 15-1 regular season in 1998.

PMC

November 15th, 2011
4:08 pm

The Rams, probably have a better pass rush than we do, no joke.

Connie Lingous

November 15th, 2011
4:09 pm

Everyone, here’s the deal – Smitty’s premature onside kick in the 4th and the insane 4th down attempt in OT were sort of a function of the fact the whole organization is playing and coaching very tight this season (got a better explanation for Roddy’s dropped passes, anyone?).

Basically, what I am hearing from a man who’d know is that Art is on a rampage at the Branch – has been since his marriage broke up in late August (announced publicly in mid-Sept) – he’s taking it out on the NFLer’s, knows he’d get hit with lawsuits if he acted that way in his business office in Buckhead – grown men hiding under desks to avoid his wrath doesn’t leave a lot of time for film study and crafting solid gameplans (can you say regression?). Smitty is said to dread speaking to the man and spoonfeeding him the constant football 101 lessons, TD has been seen biking hard from the complex even middays with Art standing in the doorway shouting after him.

Until this whole thing with Art’s personal life clears up, we’re going to underachieve on the field, gang.

Please don’t shoot the messenger – I am telling you all what I’m hearing from a man who’d know.

mark

November 15th, 2011
4:09 pm

the OC NEED TO GO its seem everybody heres knows that even the saints fans who write in this block, BAD PLAY CALLING BAD PLAY SELECTION, I HAVE A LOT OF FAITH IN THE TEAM, BUT MULARKLEY IS KILLING US EVEN THE PLAYBOOK FROM MADDEN ITS BETTER THAN WHAT THIS GUY RUNS A RUN TO THE MIDDEL WITH THE SLOWEST NO 1 RB IN THE LEAGUE WHY YO DONT CALLA QB SNEAK WHEN YOU QB IS 6″5 I JUST DONT GET IT MAYBE THAT HOLD VS GRIMES WASNT AS GOOD AS WE THOUGHT IT WAS, THEN RODDY DROPS THE GAME WINNING TD! ONE AFTER ANOTHER MISTAKE I CANT BELIVE WE HAVENT SWITCH FROM WEEMS TO FRANKS TO RETURN THE KICKS AND THE PUNTS, WAY TOO MANY MISTAKES AND SPOON WITH THAT CELEBRATION! WHAT IS THAT!!!!

mark

November 15th, 2011
4:12 pm

Connie Lingous

IT SEEM ALL YOU SAY IS RIGHT, MAYBE ART SHOULD GO INTO RAMPAGE MODE AN FIRED MULARKLEY BECAUSE HE SUCKS MAN HE CALLS PLAYS LIKE ITS 1987 AND WE ARE PLAYING IN SNOW

Look At Green Bay

November 15th, 2011
4:14 pm

Aaron Rodgers has no problem spreading the ball to Driver,Jennings,Jones,J.Nelson,etc. in Green Bay’s offense. The problem has to be Matt Ryan if its “chemistry”.

SirReal

November 15th, 2011
4:17 pm

I dont know whats wrong with this offense. Roddy said it best. They seem to lack chemistry and dont really have an identity. I wonder how much of a difference it would make to have a new OC. Smitty’s bro-ini law Billick’s always clamoring about Ryan. Maybe he could design an offense that would work around his noodle arm and one that uses personnel a lot better. HOWEVER, if the players do what they have to do, MM doesnt look so bad now does he? Still too conservative for my taste…but Mularkey’s still one of the higher echelon OCs in the league. I’d take him over half of the others.

mark

November 15th, 2011
4:18 pm

HELL WE NEED THAT GB OC LIKE OUR HC THAT DEFINITLY WIN SOME GAMES FOR US

Look At Green Bay

November 15th, 2011
4:19 pm

If you watch Eli Manning throw a deep ball he puts it on the money 99 % of the time. I watched Matt Ryan miss 6 straight deep passes against the Saints.

mark

November 15th, 2011
4:20 pm

SirReal

IT SEEM WE ALL KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS THE THING IS THE HC AND THE GM DOSENT KNOW HE HAVE WAY TOO MANY WEAPONS TO PLAY LIKE WE ARE PLAYING I WANT TO KNOW WHAT RODGERS COULD DO WITH ALL THE WEAPONS RYAN HAS

Jmoore

November 15th, 2011
4:23 pm

Roddy is setting his self up for trade bait…Maybe we can get our drafts picks back and with douglas coming on he will make good one two punch with jones. Watch games close and you will see who gets double coverage, let me give you guys a hint its not 84….

Whizz

November 15th, 2011
4:31 pm

Don’t we beat the Bucs and the Saints if White catches the two TD balls that hit him in the hands? Isn’t that the biggest, simplest reason we are 5-4 instead of 7-2?

Seen (Sean Payton) This (take painkillers) B4 (so he can be on the sideline)

November 15th, 2011
4:33 pm

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the forthcoming holiday season, let us all, Saints and Falcons fans alike, reflect on two of the greatest players who have worn both uniforms: Morten Anderson and Bobby Hebert. Who will ever forget Morton’s OT kick vs. the Vikings? Or Hebert’s gutsy play, especially in that game vs. the 49ers in ‘95 in relief of Jeff George, that got us into the playoffs?

Look At Green Bay

November 15th, 2011
4:42 pm

Michael Turner has had some big runs but too many times he runs up the middle into clogged linemen for no gain. I know what I’ve seen.

Look At Green Bay

November 15th, 2011
4:43 pm

No doubt Roddy dropped the winning td against the Saints. Tony Gonzalez is not used nearly enough.

jerry

November 15th, 2011
4:44 pm

Ryan threw 2 incompletions from the NO 13 yard line—field goal.
Ryan threw 2 incompletions from the NO 9 yard line– field goal.

Look At Green Bay

November 15th, 2011
4:45 pm

Bobby Hebert was a career backup. Nothing more.

JSS

November 15th, 2011
4:48 pm

All of you great football minds said that people (teams) were no longer going to be able to double cover Roddy and Gonzalez… Ha ha, even when Julio is on the field, they run bracket coverages on the weapons… Ryan’s arm beyond 30 yards doesn’t scare anyone to force them to cover the long routes. The Falcons pass blocking certainly doesn’t scare anyone that they’ll keep anyone off him till someone can run thru the secondary and he can actually deliver the ball… Roddy White is just the victim of his own success. Last year he had at least 18 catches where willed himself to the ball and bailed out Ryan. This team must get real about who they are… They are ball control… They 3 receivers at the most in sets… They can not fool people, Mularkey is not the problem, the fact the league is on to their limitations is their problem… Point-blank-period!!!

mountain_jim

November 15th, 2011
4:51 pm

Great column Jeff. Appreciate you asking Roddy these things.

He might have got another interference call or 2 go his way, including the TD drop that could have won, if he had not already totally alienated the officials by that point by being an ass.

Thanks also for calling out Mularkey for not utilizing his talent worth a flip, and scheme design and play-calling are the reasons.

Matt makes up 10 points in 5 minutes when he calls the plays, Mularkey/Smith calls the same stupid dive up the middle that they used on an earlier 4th down, after a timeout, with NO expecting it, with their big line package in and jumping the snap.

That was the time for creativity, like a fake on the dive and a pitch to Rodgers, which probably would have gone for a TD. At least try and get them to jump offsides as they were jumping the snap count.

And if it’s Smith thats forcing the conservative play that was already used, he needs to get a clue as well. The other teams are totally onto our plays – it’s only due to talent that the Falcons are above 500, its sure not offensive coaching quality.
Matt needs to fix his deep ball problems – twice HD was open deep for a TD but Matt throws short and wide and can’t complete it. Elite QBs make those plays at a higher percentage, or at least throw close enough to get a PI call.

mountain_jim

November 15th, 2011
4:53 pm

Matt’s arm seemed stronger his first year – by now he should have strengthened it a bunch, like Brady did after a few offseasons to work on it.

Look At Green Bay

November 15th, 2011
4:57 pm

Accuracy after 30 yards is impossible for Matt Ryan. He cannot time his throws to hit receivers in stride. Brees,E.Manning,P.Manning,Favre,Marino,Brady,A.Rodgers,etc. all can/could do this with EASE.

Matty

November 15th, 2011
5:02 pm

I don’t know if you’ll noticed but you can blame roddy white nad the entire coaching staff all you want and im not excluding that but if Matt Ryan became an all around qb which means he needs to get his deep ball accuracy in check we would have this offense rolling, just go back and look at the fim vs saints… he missed a deep to harry and OT that would have ended the game.

Matty

November 15th, 2011
5:04 pm

Thank you green bay, if matty could have that in his arsenal like every elte qb he would be eilte, but he is not yet…. HD was wide open in OT but matt overthrew him, and he ALWAYS overthrows Jones… ITs Ridiculus..

Matty

November 15th, 2011
5:07 pm

He needs to strengthen his lower body and core, legs etc… to give more power