Rich McKay, genius? Well, he drafted indispensable Roddy

And here we’d been thinking Thomas Dimitroff was the real brains in Flowery Branch. Silly us. According to Bill Barnwell of the Football Outsiders on, the Falcons own the NFL’s fourth-most indispensable player. (Link requires registration.) And now you’re thinking …

Dimitroff signee Michael Turner? No.

Dimitroff draftee Matt Ryan? Nope.

Roddy White.

Color me surprised. I think of Roddy White as a fine wide receiver, but when I think of wideouts I think first of Larry Fitzgerald or Steve Smith or Randy Moss or even — pardon me for mentioning the name, lest ESPN the network do an hour-long special — Terrell Owens. But here’s Barnwell’s list of indispensables, and it’s an eye-opener:

  • 10. Kris Jenkins, DT, Jets.
  • 9. Michael Roos, OT, Titans.
  • 8. Ed Reed, S, Ravens.
  • 7. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans.
  • 6. Tommie Harris, DT, Bears.
  • 5. Ryan Clady, OT, Broncos.
  • 4. Roddy White, WR, Falcons.
  • 3. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders.
  • 2. DeMarcus Ware, LB, Cowboys.
  • 1. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts.

Barnwell makes a compelling case: “No wideout played a bigger part in his team’s success than White. Matt Ryan threw 32.5 percent of his passes in 2008 to White, the highest such percentage for any receiver in football. (Carolina’s Steve Smith was second, at 29.5 percent.) The Falcons added Tony Gonzalez to help ease White’s load in 2009, but it’s not as if Gonzalez made the Kansas City offense go last year. If the Falcons lost White, the effects on their offense would be catastrophic.”

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And who drafted White out of UAB in 2005 with the 27th pick in Round 1? Why, Rich McKay, who has since been kicked upstairs to the presidential suite. (The same Rich McKay drafted Jamaal Anderson with the eighth overall pick in 2007, and Anderson has amassed two sacks in two seasons. But I digress.)

So, all together now, let’s assign credit where it’s due: Roddy White is a really good ballplayer, and Rich McKay made a really shrewd pick.

And now you’re asking: Does this mean I’d rather have McKay doing my talent-spotting than Dimitroff? Uh, no.

175 comments Add your comment


June 23rd, 2009
10:51 am

Roddy is a rising young superstar in the league. But I think the offense could survive with Mike Jenkins, Harry Douglas and Brian Finneran filling in at WR. Not to mention the aforementioned Gonzales picking up the offensive slack.

Turner is our most important player. The offense doesn’t go if he’s not in the middle keeping 8 men in the box on 1st and 2nd down.


June 23rd, 2009
10:56 am

First…Matt Ryan is our MVP. No contest.


June 23rd, 2009
10:56 am

Took too long typing


June 23rd, 2009
10:58 am

Our most important player was our offensive line. Not Roddy, not Turner, not Matt Ryan. Without the OL there is no Pro Bowl for Turner or White.


June 23rd, 2009
11:18 am

Ok Mark, Mckay got one right and for that he makes millions. Must be nice.

Class of '98

June 23rd, 2009
11:31 am

Who gives a crap who has the first reply? Is that some sort of accomplishment?


June 23rd, 2009
11:41 am

Good observation i like it, but 1 pick in too many years aint acceptabel, he had a lot o busts and players how didint fit in the system his ring whit tampa was a fluke,and dimitroff is the brains here

Mark Bradley

June 23rd, 2009
11:43 am

If you make the first comment, you win the right to make as many comments on this blog as you want — for free! No shipping! No handling! One hundred percent free of charge!


June 23rd, 2009
11:56 am

All white needed was coaching now he is emerging as a great Wideout. The offense is set to be a power house this year if the defense improves just a little watch out NFC we are coming.


June 23rd, 2009
12:00 pm

Sorry to say Michael Turner and Matt Ryan made the o-line 100 times better than they are. The o-line is a decent group but not that great, good but not 2500 yards rushing and 17 sack good. Let’s face it all three players on o are important, but we could not make the playoffs with out the clutch performance of John Abraham. 16.5 sacks against double teams every time. This guy has been a warrior for us and if they kept qb pressures in the league no player in the league would be close to him. John Abraham was are d last year and will continue to be for at least one more year. That was Rich Mckays best move, but theres still hope for Nicholas, Babineaux, Jenkins, Davis, and maybe even the petrino 3 in Houston, Anderson, and Blaylock.

Reid Adair

June 23rd, 2009
12:01 pm

Many, many people bashed the Falcons for drafting Roddy White and again during his first two years with the Falcons. It wasn’t “coaching.” It was getting a quarterback who could read receivers, throwing timing patterns and routes rather than just saying, “Go deep, and I’ll throw it to you.”

The numbers support that. Even in 2007, with the circus of Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich and Chris Redman at quarterback, White put up better numbers than either of his two years playing with the former quarterback.

In 2008, with the talented Matt Ryan at the helm, his numbers improved again.

Arthur Blank and Thomas Dimitroff need to make re-signing White a priority. Immediately, if not sooner.


June 23rd, 2009
12:02 pm

As a collective effort, the TEAM (Together Everybody Accomplishes More) made the Falcons a SUCCESS last year. It’s nice that Roddy is finally getting some recognition, but no one player should be above the team. PRIME EXAMPLE: MIKE VICK (Enough Said). If everybody does their part in Coach Smith’s scheme then more accolades will be thrown around for the remaining players on the roster. GO TEAM………..HELL YEAH FALCONS!!!!!

Mark Bradley

June 23rd, 2009
12:16 pm

We wouldn’t have said that two years ago, but it’s the absolute truth now: Roddy White must be re-signed. And I think the Falcons feel the same way.

Hamad Meander

June 23rd, 2009
12:21 pm

Roddy White is one of those wide receivers that continues to get a little better every year. I would think the addition of Gonzalez, the second year of Matt Ryan, and the pounding running game from Turner, Norwood and Mughelli would help Roddy have a nice long and productive career with the Falcons.

Either way, Matt Ryan is the most indespensable player on the roster today.

Ted Striker

June 23rd, 2009
12:23 pm

Anyone else notice that none of “The NFL’s 10 Irreplaceable Players” played in last year’s Super Bowl?


In the words of Inigo Montoya: “You (Barnwell) keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Mark Bradley

June 23rd, 2009
12:26 pm

I go back and forth between Turner and Ryan as the indispensable Falcon. Theirs is a symbiotic relationship, I’d say.

And I had to look Ingio up, Ted. I’ve never seen “The Princess Bride.”


June 23rd, 2009
12:26 pm

Oh great. Thanks to Barnwell’s list, the cost of resigning White has probably gone up.


June 23rd, 2009
12:30 pm

Not a knock on Roddy but a wide receiver is NEVER the most indispensible person on a team, EVER.


June 23rd, 2009
12:33 pm

Ted Striker,
it’s indispensable, not irreplacable.

Sun Tzu 7

June 23rd, 2009
12:35 pm

Actually what I find funny about this is that McKay’s track record of drafting WR’s was pretty terrible when he was in Tampa.

I think he drafted several Florida WR’s that all turned out to be busts.

I don’t think anyone can call Roddy White a bust now.


June 23rd, 2009
12:43 pm


You, a father of at least one girl, has never seen The Princess Bride (possibly Rob Reiner’s best movie with apologies to This is Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally)???




June 23rd, 2009
12:47 pm

Seriously… you need to go Netflix this film and put it at the top of your que.

It really is a great film, one of the best from the 1980s, and that’s no lie.

It has the debuts of Robin Wright (before she added -Penn) and Cary Elwes.

It has Mandy Patankin, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Chris Sarandon, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, and an outstanding performance by Andre the Giant.

PLUS – Fred Savage and Peter Falk as the “frame” part of this frame story.

I’m serious… you REALLY need to see this film.

And when you have, let us know what you think.

Very funny, very well acted and directed film.


June 23rd, 2009
12:50 pm

Mark, you really do owe it to yourself to see that movie.

Rich’s problem was never drafting players who could play in the league-an even play well. His problem was the coaches he hired and the schemes they ran. That crazy pulling o-line/west coast/read option hybrid. It didn’t fit the players. People he drafted here that left made it elsewhere. That said, he was best on the second day.


June 23rd, 2009
12:53 pm

Important to remember too, that McKay drafted Michael Jenkins. He, too, looked like a bust until last year. He was as integral a piece to our offense as White, Ryan, Turner and HD.

While maturity can be a key to both White and Jenkins, one must also wonder if they have blossomed because they finally have a QB that can throw the ball to them.

Bob in SF

June 23rd, 2009
12:55 pm

Roddy is a stud but he still shows the occasional lapse of concentration (vs. Denver last year). He cleans that up and everyone is talking about him in the same sentence as Fitzgerald, T.O. and Moss. Douglas, Fin and MJ are nice WR’s but Roddy has the one of the top speed and physical presence combinations in the league. None of those guys could replace him if he went down.

Ted Striker

June 23rd, 2009
12:56 pm

Good catch, Josh. I must have watched the Beyonce video one too many times.

Mark, you should check out the “Battle of Wits” scene sometime. Vizzini reminds me of Larry the superior who recently showed up to post in the blogs.


June 23rd, 2009
12:57 pm

It’s amazing, Mark, that you never mention the fact that both Roddy White and Michael Turner, once thought imperturbable busts…

… only got “good” when a certain dog-killing athlete was kicked off the team for his lies and dirty deeds.

In the immortal words of C + C Music Factory: “Things that make you go Hmmm.”


June 23rd, 2009
1:00 pm

Joe Horn is a big part of the reason Roddy has turned into a big-time receiver. Along with Hue Jackson, they taught Roddy how to practice and be focused. Hue also developed Housh and Chad in Cincy. In regards to being indispensable, John Abraham is, hands down. Seen our pass rush without him? Thought so.


June 23rd, 2009
1:05 pm

Roddy White is definitely coming into his own. As to Rich McKay’s genius, even a blind pig finds a truffle every once in a while.


June 23rd, 2009
1:07 pm

Jenkins was always a red zone threat, even when Vick was here. Just check his stats. Also, it didn’t help much that dumb Mora had him on the bench much of his rookie season (2004).

Ted Striker

June 23rd, 2009
1:15 pm

Joe Horn taught Roddy White how to practice and have focus? The dude had already forgotten those things by the time he made it to Atlanta.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/28/08

Flowery Branch — Veteran wide receiver Joe Horn, back from a months-long, self-imposed exile, spent time after practice Sunday running routes and catching balls — something he didn’t do during the actual morning session of training camp.

Horn mostly watched practice because he’s not fully ready to participate.

“When I left, I didn’t study the playbook,” Horn said. “My emotions let my study habits with the playbook leave. I stayed in shape, but I didn’t study my playbook.”

Horn’s distanced himself from all things Falcons the past two months because he wants to be traded. The 13-year veteran asked out early this summer after a mandatory mini-camp at which he said he felt he was being put to pasture in favor of younger players.

Horn skipped all voluntary team functions, including six weeks of offseason team activities, which are basically non-contact practices.

Coach Mike Smith said Horn, who signed a four-year, $14.5-million, free-agent contract in 2007 after spending most of his career with New Orleans, is expected to compete for playing time.

“There is a negotiating season, a pay season and a play season,” Smith said. “It is play season and Joe is a football player. He is out there to compete and win a position on this football team.”

Horn has put himself in a tough position to do that. He not only neglected his playbook, but he did not catch any balls from the team’s quarterbacks or get overly familiarized with the new front office and coaching regime.

“After 12 years in this league, I know getting acclimated with your quarterback and getting your timing is necessary,” said Horn, who caught 27 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown last season. “I didn’t come to the offseason program. I didn’t come to OTAs and I understand there’s a thing called order. You have to come in as the eighth receiver. I understand that. I’ve got to work my way back up — if I’m here.”

Dr. Warren

June 23rd, 2009
1:20 pm

Thank God football season is fast-approaching. (Or at least training camp). And who wouldn’t take Larry Fitzgerald in a trade for any Falcon aside from Ryan and possibly Turner?


June 23rd, 2009
1:23 pm

Mark, this is such nonsense. White may still develop into a first-rate receiver, but I haven’t seen it happen yet. He had a lot of balls throw (well-thrown) to him last year, racked up the yardage, and made a few good catches and RAC’s. He also dropped too many balls and did some stupid things, like that crazy slo-mo high-stepping thing on his way to the end-zone, which could easily have resulted in him being tackled short of the goal. I’ll just mention that Chad Johnson, who isn’t even on Barnwell’s list (tells you something about Barnwell right there), is currently, and in a fully proven way, about three-times the receiver Roddy is.


June 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

If we are speaking from what happened last year, its John Abraham all the way. Just think how poor our entire D would have been last season w/o his production. I remember calling my brother early last season just to say, “Abraham’s our best player”.


June 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm


to be considered great, great receivers have hands of glue, they dont catch the ball 90% of the time, they catch everything catchable.

White is a good receiver, not a great receiver.


June 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

BugKiller… Turner was never on the team with Vick. Do you watch the Falcons, or just hate Vick?

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

June 23rd, 2009
1:29 pm

BugKiller, I don’t think of a 5th round pick as a bust, so Turner does not nor has he ever fallen under that lablel. As for White, could be a differen’t story but on average it takes a WR 2 seasons before they really catch on. The Randy Moss’ are few and far between.

MB, another vote for Princess Bride. Andrea the Giant deserved an Oscar nomination.


June 23rd, 2009
1:29 pm

Where all the Vick lovers at?

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

June 23rd, 2009
1:30 pm


June 23rd, 2009
1:34 pm


Of course, most people would see I wrote Michael Turner and understand, since I was talking about RECEIVERS, that I simply misspoke and meant Michael Jenkins.

But of course, I wouldn’t expect a Vick Apologist such as yourself to be able to make an intuitive leap such as that.


June 23rd, 2009
1:35 pm

Greg, please give me some of what you’re smoking

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

June 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

Bug, oh Jenkins, yeah your right, they did get better. Two reasons: first they learned not to give up on a route because the QB was still in the pocket. Second, it was made easier because the ball had some touch on it.

Mark Bradley

June 23rd, 2009
1:50 pm

I’m the proud father of two daughters, and someone I believe both of them missed “The Princess Bride.” But I’ll ask. (One is sleeping at the moment. The other is out with her mom shopping for her sleeping sister’s birthday.)


June 23rd, 2009
1:52 pm

Can we please refrain from mentioning Vick?
Roddy showed up last year and I expect more this upcoming year. If we can keep this core group, with the defense maturing in the next couple of season, I see the Lombardi Trophy being carried down Peachtree!!


June 23rd, 2009
1:55 pm

BugKiller…I am no Vick apologist. I just don’t like the fact that our Falcon fans can’t move on. We have potential for one our best teams ever, any some people only care to talk about Vick. Let it go and enjoy the team we have. For the record, I think what Vick did was very “silly”, he blew millions on something so “?”. But you people who keep killing his time as a player here, as if the good did not outweigh the bad. Yeah, there was bad, some was Vick some was circumstance.

But I would not expect some “PETA Nut” to let it go and move on.

lynn candy cain

June 23rd, 2009
2:04 pm

roddy drops more balls than my 5 yr old twins….kinda looks like he could’ve went to uga and played wideout….


June 23rd, 2009
2:16 pm

How can we give mat ryan all this credit after one year. For example vince young played good his first yr and then fell off the next two. So lets wait til we start praising mat ryan. And for the vick haters remember he go to the nfc champ w/ a worst team than they have now.

Ex wideout

June 23rd, 2009
2:16 pm

So what if Roddy and Ryan been a superstar for one season, just make it two in a row, I’m wondering if someone so good like Roddy, then he would have caught anyone’s passes including Vick’s, cause Jenkins did. Must be Ryan, softer thrower. Be consistent. It’s just damn time he work hard to keep his job like we all do anyway everyday.

Ryan Clady not Clay

June 23rd, 2009
2:17 pm

That is all.

Mark Bradley

June 23rd, 2009
2:20 pm

Thanks, Ryan. You win the proofreading award, for which I obviously finished last.