Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/7/11
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. Call it frustration. Call it sarcasm. Call it whatever you want, but Falcons perennial Pro-Bowl wide receiver Roddy White suggested on Wednesday that maybe the Falcons should scrap their attempts to throw deep down the field. Last week in their 17-10 loss at Houston, the Falcons threw deep twice on the first series. Both White and rookie Julio Jones had beaten their defender, but each time quarterback Matt Ryan overthrew them. White was asked why it was so hard it is to complete the deep ball and whether it requires more practice. I have no idea, he said. I have no idea. I dont even know the answer for it. I dont know. I think we should just scrap it and do something else. He chuckled self-consciously to himself and then he continued. We should do some other things, he said. Weve missed a lot of them this year, so I dont really have an answer. We run them -- we hit them in practice. We just cant seem to hit them in the game, so I dont know, probably do a little bit different things. A little bit more timely passes and things like that. Get the ball out of Matts hands and get to us and see if we could make some people miss and get explosive plays like that. All season the Falcons offense has struggled for consistency despite the many weapons it possesses tight end Tony Gonzalez, running back Michael Turner, White, Jones and even third receiver Harry Douglas has topped the 100-yard receiving mark once this season. At times the Falcons have hit the deep ball with spectacular success notably on Nov. 6 against winless Indianapolis when Jones had three catches for 131 yards, including two touchdowns. However, as White alluded to, it seems far more often they have struggled with it. Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicated that throwing the deep ball would be a week-to-week decision, depending on the game plan. Well, again, we go in each week with a game plan and what we think is going to give us the best opportunity and, obviously, the way we started the game you can make your own decisions on what we felt like we wanted to do, Smith said, and we didnt connect and when you dont have effectiveness or are efficient, it probably wasnt the right thing to do, but that was the strategy we felt we needed to employ when we started the game last week. Integrating Jones into the offense has been a dilemma all season for the Falcons after trading up to draft him at No. 6 overall. One of the major roles they used him for is the deep threat. After the season opener, offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey was criticized for not calling deep balls against the Bears two-deep zone. The Falcons started getting Jones going in the third week when he had 115 yards on six catches. The next week he totaled 127 yards on 11 catches. He injured his hamstring in the following game and then missed the next two but returned with the big game against the Colts, which included 33 rushing yards on two carries. Again, he got hurt in the next game this time the other hamstring -- and hasnt caught more than 68 yards worth of passes since that Nov. 6 game against Indianapolis. Even with the loss, the Falcons have won five of their last seven games. Nonetheless, after scoring 30 points or more in four of their first eight games, they have not topped 24 in the last four two of them losses. Youve just got to make the throws, Ryan said, placing the blame squarely on himself. Our guys ran great routes and did exactly what we asked them to do. I just didnt put the ball in the right spot. Weve got to make those plays. Its as simple as it is, especially when youre playing against a really good football team. Youre going to have opportunities like that in those type of games and in that type of atmosphere you have to make those plays. Ryan had his lowest quarterback rating of the season, 50.6, against Houston. The effort 20-for-47 for 267 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions represented Ryans lowest rating since 2009, when he was in his second season and posted a 46.6 rating in a loss to eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans. On Sunday, plenty of drops played into Ryans poor rating. One of the interceptions came when Jones ran the wrong route. The other came on a flea-flicker when he received a bad pitch back from running back Michael Turner. Ryan had entered Sunday with a rating of 100 or better in four of his previous six games and a season-high 128.2 against Minnesota. Thats part of the deal, Ryan said of the low rating. Theres going to be weeks when you dont play as well as you would like to. In this league, its all about how you respond. Its all about how you bounce back. Having that mental toughness, to be able to put those kind of things behind you and not let them kind of lurk around the locker room, lurk around in your head, thats part of being a professional. So thats going to be my mindset. White was asked how much blame the receivers bore for Ryans poor outing. We just went out there and didnt hit the plays we were supposed to hit, he said. The outcome is what it is. If we hit the early ones then its a different ballgame, but we didnt hit em and we didnt get off to the start we wanted and they played good defense. Earlier in the week, Smith promised to remain even-keeled in his approach. Strategy, however, is another matter. It will be interesting on Sunday when the Falcons visit the Panthers as to whether the game plan includes the deep ball. Its tough when you draw plays up and you know youre only going to get one chance to get them and then you dont hit them, White said. So its kind of tough looking at things like that, but it is what it is I guess well have to change up a few things and go in a different direction.
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