COMMENTARY | Losing four out of the first five games, coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have the most troubling start in their Atlanta Falcons tenures. All games were close and the blame for defeat could be spread around several ways. For the offense missing Julio Jones' spark, the Falcons should not rely on flutters from injured starting wide receiver Roddy White.
1. The Falcons Have Other Major Concerns
What stands out about the 2013 Atlanta Falcons' run to the Super Bowl is the amount of crucial injuries. I know that using "run" is laughable. Really, the Falcons are tripping all over and may have to claw their way to finish above .500. In order for the offense to have a fighting chance, Coach Smith must rest White for a while.
Benching usually means that the player, when giving his best effort, is so awful that a replacement could have better games. Individually, many Falcons starters aren't playing at a high standard. Name anyone who started on the offensive line, for example. Matt Ryan isn't given the time he needs in the pocket and the running game is suffering with this season's patchy group. Neither safety, Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, are anything to brag about. I will, at the moment, excuse defensive rookies Joplo Bartu, Paul Worrilow, and Robert McClain for unexpected on-the-job training.
Don't get me started about all the Falcons' fourth-quarter blunders and breakdowns against the Saints, Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets. I'll have a headache thinking about them.
2. White Should Rest Today For A Stronger Offense In the Future
After pondering about other struggling players, it is best for Roddy to recover from his ankle injuries for a better offense later in the season.
With receiver Jones out for the year, Roddy is in a position to hold up a weakening receiving corps. I appreciate all he has done for the franchise. However, there's little to gain keeping Roddy on the field week after week potentially making his pains worse. On Oct. 10, Roddy was listed as day-to-day and didn't practice during the bye week according the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. Ledbetter also noted that the receiver "wished he'd sat down for a couple of games at the beginning of the season with his high right ankle sprain instead of playing as a decoy" while on 92.9's "Game Time" radio show.
Roddy can be full of pride and his Tweets have provided some outrageous moments. What would really be truly outrageous is risking the career of a star receiver. Decoys are for hunting. I don't want a temporarily-wounded warrior to become a lame warrior.
3. Harry Douglas and Kevin Cone Should Be Ready To Step Up
With Matt Ryan still the quarterback, why not start both Harry Douglas and Kevin Cone? The rumored addition of Hakeem Nicks would be nice, but the Falcons need more than him. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter should work with Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez, and the remaining receivers to work out an adjusted scheme. Douglas and Cone aren't as impressive as a healthy White and Jones, but Koetter must figure out how to the make the most of their situation.
I remain optimistic about the Falcons. However, if Matt Ryan isn't willing to salvage the offense through Douglas and Cone then he doesn't deserve his status as a leader.
After the bye week, the Falcons' next opponent are the winless Buccaneers. Giving Roddy this game off will not kill the Falcons' hopes at the playoffs. The offense is struggling enough as is, especially in the red zone. The price of avoiding the NFC South cellar shouldn't be Roddy White's leg.
C.A. Riley writes about the Falcons and is recovering from losses by several Georgia-based sports teams: the Braves, the WNBA's Dream, UGA, Georgia Tech, and reigning Division II National Champion Valdosta State.
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