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

Samuel

November 16th, 2011
6:02 am

I don’t think Roddy White has thick skin and that’s the problem. Yeah, Things went their way, but that was last year. He talks a good game saying all the right things, but I like a guy who can perform under adversity. He hasn’t this year. Mike Smith and Vangorder are spinning a story for Ray Edwards saying he might not know all the plays, he’s getting pressure on the quarterback, and he had knee surgery. Why did they bring him in?, to be sack productive and that has not happen. The staff has to look each other in the eye and admit that some of these players on this roster are not productive week in and week out. C,mon, do we need to sign Decoud and Robinson Jerry to new contracts I think not. And that’s to name a few. If Mike Smith doesn’t get control of these penalties they are going no where fast.

Greg

November 16th, 2011
6:40 am

People keep complaining about Ryan’s arm on deep throws. They’re right! But let’s not overlook his spotty accuracy in the SHORT throwing game. How many passes are too high or behind the receiver? Oh, and you can add a few that are short and practically in the dirt. The truth is that, with respect to accuracy, he is a below-average NFL QB. I agree with the criticism of Mularkey’s play-calling, and the last play with Turner getting stuffed was just the latest example of stupidity. But the biggest problem of all on Sunday was, with the exception of about two plays, the ZERO pressure of Brees. We just don’t have the personnel to compete with the best teams. And we surely don’t have the coaching to compete.

falcon

November 16th, 2011
6:49 am

I won’t be renewing my tickets if Mularkey is still calling the plays next year.

Old Dawg Fan

November 16th, 2011
7:09 am

From what I saw in White’s playing Sunday-he really played terrible and obviously can’t control these “personal files” he continues to deliver. It could be said he was a very big part of them losing the game.

DC Dirty Bird

November 16th, 2011
7:32 am

We have a lot of issues, but with the talent that’s on this roster, Roddy White’s drops shouldn’t be magnified like they are. Our team is playing tight because of the expectations placed on them and the minimal margin of error due to our coordinators. I love Mike Smith as a leader, but he’s got to realize that we don’t have SB level coordinators. Talent without scheme is killing us.

SimpleDawg

November 16th, 2011
7:47 am

He’s a whiny, over-paid moron.

Someone must be greasing his gloves……

Maybe he should try putting some stickum on his facemask.

Dawg

November 16th, 2011
7:53 am

Cmon R White is average at best. He gets lazy on routes, drops balls and doesn’t have the deep speed. Another year of experience and Jones will be the go to guy

Mid Town Joe

November 16th, 2011
7:57 am

I got closer to Brees through my Vizio than the Falcon’s D line did.

Statick

November 16th, 2011
8:04 am

Hey, Roddy! You know what’ll help you? Shutting your big, fat mouth, stop acting like a little kid on the field and concentrate on your job. That’ll go a long way to helping you get better. Shut the hell up and play.

David

November 16th, 2011
8:09 am

You’ve got to catch the ball when it’s thrown to you Roddy. Gotta catch the ball. Plain and simple. That’s what cost us the game against the Saints. Dropped damn passes.

Crabkilla

November 16th, 2011
8:23 am

I go to sleep everynight and dream of Brian Finneran making third down receptions for first downs. Those were the days.

Nativebird

November 16th, 2011
8:25 am

Three words: Mu – Lark – Key.

TROTTINGHOME

November 16th, 2011
8:37 am

Roddy lost that game for us…had nothing to do with our OC

Juan

November 16th, 2011
8:42 am

White needs to worry about catching the ball! Everytime he dropped a pass he looked to the ref to throw a flag…what a whimpe!

SirReal

November 16th, 2011
8:52 am

Its not like we’re going to the Super Bowl anyway….QB: Middle of the road. Nothing special regardless of how the media keeps giving him unearned props. Win a big one and come talk to me then. RB: Turner=OVERutilized, Rogers=UNDERutilized (a la 4th down in OT) WR: HD is our best one right now and the idiots will probably let him walk in free agency. If he stays, he should demand more of a role in the offense b/c they really don’t seem to see how EXPLOSIVE (isnt that what we gave up a 1000 picks for and had it right here the whole time?) he can be. Jones is gonna be great guys. Give him some slack. He’s still a rookie and he didnt ask for the Birds to reach that high for him. Those hammys can be sensitive. If Ryan could throw better, he wouldnt have to stride so damn far for his inaccurate passes. Roddy just straight up needs to get himself together. He doesnt seem right this season. Bad vibes for some reason TE: The man can still get it done. He’s lost a step but still a step ahead of many in the game now. OC: Oh how this guy frustrates me. But now I wonder if its him, or if Smitty keeps overruling any plays that give us a new look. Ryan also seems better running hurry up…maybe they should let them do it all game…wait…Smith wants to grind the clock, boring vanilla…blah blah…time management….blah..blah. I wont even get started on the D. They’ve at least tried to step it up as of late and our LBs are both in top 10 in tackles in the whole league. I still hate the swiss cheese soft zones, etc though. I just dont think we have a DC with enough talent to pull the pass defense out of the basement its been in the past FOUR seasons. Run D is great though. Now after analyzing all this, do you really see a team ready to hoist the trophy? Didnt think so. Still 7 games left and we’ll see but from this vantage point, it doesnt look pretty.

"HERE COMES THE JUDGE"

November 16th, 2011
9:12 am

I have appointed myself the judge to represent the fans: JUDGE: Mr White, why in the heck are you letting your opponents get in your head and causing those rediculous penalties? RODDY: I’m the greatest, I am the savior of the Falcons’ nation, I am Roddy. JUDGE: Well, sonny listen to this…if you’re proclaiming yourself all those things I highly suggest you start acting like a leader of this team and not like you’re trying to control the kindergarden sandbox…show some maturity! RODDY: I know, I know…those darn dropped pases, those untimed penalties…I know I can do better…but that boy from Alabama showed up and messed up my stardom…shoot, darn, shucks!! JUDGE: I hereby sentence you to tape your mouth prior to each game, take a sedative to calm your nerves and carry a football all doing the week so you’ll know how it feels to hold one for more than a milisecond…if I ever see you back in my courtroom again, I’ll sentence you to be traded to the Colts…GET OUTTA HERE!

P Rose

November 16th, 2011
9:14 am

The Falcons can’t catch the Saints now with this team, and they sure as hell can’t beat the Packers even if they make the playoffs; so they’d be better off losing a lot more games this year, get a high position in the draft and DRAFT SOME BIG LINEMEN. Both the offensive and defensive lines SUCK. This is why Drew Brees has 5 seconds to find a target against the Falcons, while Matt Ryan has only about 2 seconds. Therein lies the problem.

mike

November 16th, 2011
9:19 am

You all weren’t crying last year about ryan. How about roddy white do what he’s paid so richly for ! catch the damn ball !

ATL

November 16th, 2011
9:35 am

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.”

What kind of question is that, of course he needs to play better!!!!! The whole team does. I think it all boils down to Mike Smith. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Mularkey considered a masterful play caller at Pittsburg. Smith is too conservative on both offense and defense. His attitude toward both is just boring. We can’t open things up if he’s holding both OC and DC back. Heck, he’s even boring to listen to. Like Charlie Browns teacher, WA WA WA WA WA WA WA!!!!!!!

just sayin'

November 16th, 2011
9:35 am

even the locals are beginning to realize…or at least admit… melt has a weak, inaccurate arm…has never been able to throw the long ball and is now missing the dinks and dunks..the media is the only group that gives him props…good guy make over from vi_ck’s days..rodney is a pouter…lazy and gives up on his routes..will play the same way against tenn…juliet needs to work on his legs…making more money than he did at alabama now and thinks he doesn’t have to WORK anymore….

SC04

November 16th, 2011
9:36 am

Look Brad Johnson went from Journeyman to SB winning QB and he had a noodle arm. The difference. . . SCHEME. Gruden made a great scheme that worked for his personell. We need an OC that can do that. And I agree Norv Turner or Brian Billick might be our best options.

ATL

November 16th, 2011
9:36 am

P Rose

I guess you forgot. We don’t have a first rounder this year!!!

rollo lawson

November 16th, 2011
9:36 am

Neither Mularkey nor Van Gorder know how to scheme and utilize the talent given to them by Thomas Dimitroff. Yes, it comes a time when players need to make plays (Roddy drops). However, there is no excuse for the vanilla defensive schemes and conservative offensive play calling we have seen over the past three years. We have seen Roddy be a beast before and more than likely he will correct his errors. I don’t have that same confidence in our coaching staff, Mike Smith included.

The real deal...

November 16th, 2011
9:36 am

Have you ever wondered WHY we alway’s proclaim how tough a game will be BEFORE the Falcons put on the pads to play? Yes, history shows us this, but how much of our pre-game planning is about living down to our projections or “going with the flow?”…I say plan for an assualt on the opposition, change up your game plans, do something different for gawds sake…get out of the mindset that we must plan for a long protracted ground assault and come out in the fashion of gingas khan and pillage the opponent…don’t we know how to do this?? Are we incapable, don’t want to? Or, just content to play it tough, win or lose by 3, and call it a day and move on…Frankly I for one am sick of this, knowing we can do better and avoid o/t losses by 3 pts…reDICKless.

rollo lawson

November 16th, 2011
9:38 am

Mike Smith will go down with his coordinators, a la Mora with Knapp and Donatell.

DAWG FAN

November 16th, 2011
9:41 am

fire mike smith and mularkey. trade Roddy, ryan, turner, and Gonzalez they all suck. bring back Vick and Jim mora at least they won a playoff game. falcons should draft Aron murray. I should be the GM since I cheer for UGA. I know everything about running a nfl organization. you people are idiots this blog is terrible.

Cannonball Butler

November 16th, 2011
9:43 am

Roddy’s dropped passes and stupid penalties cost the Falcons the game. Step up and admit it Roddy, and then FIX IT!
Stop acting like a rookie-you’re not!

Say It Aint So

November 16th, 2011
9:44 am

As I stated in many other post, it is too easy to get into Roddy’s head. Couple that with the bone headed play calling and the Falcons are looking at not making the playoffs and starting another streak of non back to back winning seasons. Why is it so damn hard to be a sports fan in this city. We can never win the big game no matter the sport.

gcs

November 16th, 2011
9:58 am

Roddy is a baby.
His first two seasons, he screwed around because he was too immature.
Finally, he becomes the number one receiver by default and he is great.
Then, the Falcons bring in Julio to compliment him. Instead of embracing the fact that he’ll stop being double-covered so much, he turns into a jealous little wuss.
TIME TO GROW UP, RODDY!

.

Bring back Spud & Cak'

November 16th, 2011
10:07 am

Roddy WILL TURN IT AROUND. I think some of the Onus Has to Be on JONES. Get open, take some pressure off, catch catchable balls as well. UR the 6 OVERALL PICK in the Draft, U should be running passed guys & requiring double coverage, I don’t care if u r a rookie. Look at A.J. Green, look at what Fitz did his rookie season.
Trading 2 years draft, for a #6 pick WR should make the Offense BETTER not take it back, Irregardless of Mularkey’s shortcomings. Take away the Colts game (a team that’s TRYING TO LOSE EVERY GAME ‘to suck for Luck’), & Julio has been a TOTAL disappointment.
Ryan’s = a proven winner (didn’t pull it off this week, but how many times over the last 3 years, HAS he brought us back from deficits)
Roddy’s = 2 PRO Bowl season’s back to back
T. Gonzalez = Hall of famer, best receiving TE to ever grace the field, still beats his man often & sure handed
H. Douglass = Quality, get’s open, fast, few drops

I believe the Falcons can STILL catch fire, but we definitely Blew it trading 2 year’s draft for an AVERAGE wr in Jones – who has NOT helped the Offense much & all of a sudden chemistry’s off?!

GET EM’ RODDY, UR A BEAST – Stay the K_C_U*F out of strip clubs though man

tim

November 16th, 2011
10:15 am

“I’ve never pouted or cried about the situation”…..that means he wants to pout and cry. What he should of said was “Hulio makes me want to work harder every day”

Not a fan of “Roddy” White.

North FLA Falcon

November 16th, 2011
10:15 am

Now that we have Julio, Roddy is often in single coverage. He is a very physical receiver so he bumps and grinds and talks smack, and basically p*sses guys off. After every play I saw of him on Sunday, he was looking around for a flag! He’s become a bit of a diva. Knock it off and catch the ball.

FALCONS IN MY BLOOD

November 16th, 2011
10:16 am

I’M SO VERY TIRED OF WAITING FOR THE FALCONS TO GET THINGS RIGHT. NEVER HAVE I WITNESSED SUCH BAD PLAY CALLING/ POOR PLAY BY A GREAT TEAM. WE HAVE ALL THE TOOL TO BE SUCCESSFUL, BUT WHATS THE PROBLEM? GET RID OF THE OC AND IF A PLAYER OR PLAYERS DONT PERFORM AT THE N.F.L. LEVEL, MAKE CHANGES!!!! SIMPLE AS THAT!!!

Joycee Banicheck

November 16th, 2011
10:16 am

Dear Roddy, try this on for size. SHUT YOUR YAP and play ball, you are way better than what you are reverting back to.

tim

November 16th, 2011
10:18 am

And…Roddy can’t block and is a hot head. Time for some soal seaching from Roddy himself and the coaches.

3rdand10

November 16th, 2011
10:19 am

We are now seeing the value of having a tall (6′5″+) receiver who can get open, catch the ball, and sustain drives. Not keeping Finneran on the team was a huge mistake. Who did first Vick, then Ryan go to on 3rd and long? The veteran Finneran was not only a leader on the field, (especially with White), but also valuable on our special teams. Apparently the WR we drafted from Kansas does not fill this need.The ability to get separation and catch the ball (ala Tony G.) is as valuable , if not more so, in a wide receiver as speed..

kevin

November 16th, 2011
10:24 am

Mularkey is not the problem. Mularkey cannot throw passes, block, catch the ball, etc–execution has been the problem all year for The Falcons. Roddy White is looking like the Roddy White of his 1st 2 seasons. Blocking has been an intermittent issue all year (though admittedly better in the last 4 or so games). Penalties have been an issue. Matt Ryan has been inconsistent all year. And, as others have pointed out, he simply cannot throw the deep ball. It’s a serious issue and one he has never been able to fix. I am convinced that as long as Matt Ryan is QB, The Falcons will be a good, but not great team. If lucky, he will lead us to the playoffs and get beat (again).

zbulldawg

November 16th, 2011
10:26 am

Roddy just get off the ME and get with the TEAM !!! OR maybe you would fit better with the EAGLES !!!

Bless-U-Boys

November 16th, 2011
11:03 am

DECEMBER 26TH-WE CAN’T WAIT TO DO IT AGAIN-WHO-DAT!!!

Falcons ON TOP

November 16th, 2011
11:04 am

12-4 here we come.

NO will drop either NYG or DET

ATL will win @ NO

NO will go 11-5

ATL will go 12-4

Falcons on top! Falcons gonna win it!

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

November 16th, 2011
11:39 am

Anyone else other than Mike Mularkey would have the offense clicking as a cohesive unit. The plays caled by the offensive coordinator STINK!!!! It is obvious to everyone watching the games that the offense functions better when Ryan is calling the plays in their hurry up offense.

Hopefully some team will come calling for Mularkey during the off season and end our pain!!!!!

DW

November 16th, 2011
11:51 am

Maybe some of that time Matt Ryan is spending studying the play book should be spent on strength and conditioning. It’s no use knowing the play book in and out if your’re not physically capable of executing the plays.

PlanB

November 16th, 2011
11:53 am

I understand Ryan puts in alot of time studing film and things along this line to make him a better QB. He’s had 3 1/2 years for that. Now I think he needs to put that time in gaining passing strength. Remember shooting free throws as a 7 or 8 year old? Tough to get it to the hoop. Eight years later it’s easy and accuracy improves exponentially. Only due to strength. You don’t need explosive receivers like RW, JJ, HD, TG and JR and have a QB that has no accuracy or a OC with no imagination. I watch many games and say, why don’t we have that play. Another Ryan problem is illusiveness. Watch Rodgers & Brees. OL pushes DL to outside & past. QB steps up for another 1/2 second look then moves left or right for another 1/2 second. If nothing, dumps to the back for 4 or 5 yds. Matt drops back, if nothing is there, he gets nervous. Not helpful.
I don’t disagree with going for it on 4th & inches but I do disagree with the play called as I have many times on many other plays. Game should have been won before OT. Something has got to chang here. Too much wasted talent.
On D, too little blitzing. Grimes had INTs against Brees while keeping him on the run in games last year. They may not get him but they decreased his effectiveness by hurrying him. Why go back to the 4 man rush most of the time?

PlanB

November 16th, 2011
11:56 am

@ DW – Seems we agree.

Ivan

November 16th, 2011
12:47 pm

The players are to blame more than the coordinator. The coordinator puts them in position to make plays. He can’t go out on the field and throw / catch the ball FOR them.

Falcons ON TOP

November 16th, 2011
12:48 pm

12-4

12-4

12-4

12-4

12-4

12-4

2011 NFC SOUTH CHAMPS.

breakyourheart

November 16th, 2011
1:21 pm

Exciting teams do exciting things..Mediocre teams do mediocre things..Problem with the birds?

Has always been..too many “hotdogs”..If they spent as much time on their play execution as they do
on their ’stupid-ass” dancing,tweeting,partying and “blowing” about their off field activities..we would have a better overall team.

Birds have never been able to “step-up” their game and eliminate the stupid ass mistakes..they have never been one to “take the game” when opportunity presents itself..

Hell, they are nothing more than average at best..they might win 8 games this year..whoop de doo!!

?!!!!!

November 16th, 2011
1:54 pm

2 Questions, Is Julio’s injury new or the same hamstring injury he was nursing?When will he be able to play again? If someone can answer those questions, I would appreciate it.

Sid

November 16th, 2011
2:26 pm

ATL Observer

November 16th, 2011
3:16 pm

Roddy actually has to dial his intensity DOWN. He gets a little too emotional and his mistakes are usually a reflection of that (i.e. drops where he’s already thinking of running before he’s caught it). I don’t think it’s a good problem, per se, but it’s a better problem than an apathetic player.

I think he can turn it around! But I have to concur with posters above…Mularkey continues to frustrate…