Friday Falcons Mailbag: Week 1

Friday Falcons Mailbag: Week 1

Jay Adams

Published September 6, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Let’s go ahead and dive into this week’s questions. Remember, if you want to submit a question for consideration, tweet it to @FalconsJAdams with the hashtag #AFMailbag.

Answer: That’s a lot of questions, but let’s go ahead and tackle them. First of all, it looks like Roddy White is going to be healthy for Sunday’s game. He’s said as much, and so has head coach Mike Smith. Healthy or not, White is always capable of putting up 1,000 yards, but ball distribution is a huge threat to that possibility. With Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas and now Steven Jackson to think about, White’s numbers may take a hit. He won’t care as long as the Falcons are winning.

Secondly, Jones can definitely score 15 touchdowns. Here’s why I think that: White is your reliable guy. You go to him when you need big chunks of yardage and on third downs because he’s proven to be extremely valuable to the team in those scenarios. You go to Jones when you want the home-run play and explosion. Again, it depends on ball distribution here, but if quarterback Matt Ryan can connect often with Jones on the plays that are meant to be back-breakers for opposing defenses, I don’t think 15 touchdowns is out of the question.

To your last point, Smith won’t ever come out and say that the Falcons are a run-first or a pass-first team as he prefers to keep things as balanced as possible. That being said, the Falcons have certainly leaned more toward the pass since offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter came into the fold last year. Long story short, it’s certainly possible for White and Jones to have big years even with Jackson to think about in the backfield.

Answer: There’s been so much attention paid to the linebackers and secondary this year so far that the defensive line has been an overlooked entity, so I’m glad this question came up. It gives me a chance to rave about defensive tackle Travian Robertson and defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi in their progressions as second-year players. We all remember Massaquoi’s sack, strip, recovery and fumble return for a touchdown against Jacksonville, but he’s been showing flashes of quickness and strength since training camp started in July. To me, it was no surprise to see him make such a big play like that because he’s been showing that potential lately. Robertson is one player I think a lot of fans may be overlooking right now. If you watch him during the preseason, he was getting a lot of penetration and closing the pocket from between the guard and center. During practice, he’s a complete force and his bullrush is something that makes him difficult to contend with. He’ll be part of the defensive line rotation this year with Vance Walker now with the Raiders, and he’s one person to keep an eye on.

Answer: A lot. And I really do mean that. I’ve read some criticisms about his age (he just recently turned 30) and how the point he’s at usually signals the downturn for running backs during their careers, but Steven Jackson isn’t just any running back. This is a guy who takes care of himself in the same way Tony Gonzalez does — strict diet, lots of weights and working out, etc. — and we’ve seen the longevity that’s helped create for Gonzalez. Jackson was probably on a very short leash during the preseason and we’ll get to see a lot more of what he brings to the table starting this week. Sure, he’s good for dives up the middle and off-tackle runs, but he’s so effective in the passing game as an outlet or screen receiver, and he can add that extra layer of protection as a blocker on passing plays. I can’t wait to see what he can truly do in this offense with so many other weapons around him. Defenses can no longer just focus on him, like they did when he was in St. Louis. There are a lot of offensive play-makers to contend with in Atlanta’s offense, so someone’s going to have a big day every time the Falcons step on the field. Could be White. Could be Julio. Could be Gonzalez. And I expect a lot of that will have to do with Jackson’s simple presence on the field with them and the respect he demands as an all-around play-maker.

Answer: So far, I’d say it’s a tie. The two have come a long way since being drafted by the Falcons in April, and as things stand, Desmond Trufant — the first-rounder — will be starting opposite Asante Samuel. I don’t see that changing throughout the season. The question as of right now is: Who is playing nickel? Last year, the Falcons found a gem in Robert McClain and my guess would be it’s him. But could we see Robert Alford at that spot some? Possibly. I think, at the end of the year, you’ll see Trufant has made the bigger impact in his rookie season, but I expect both of these corners to be marquee players for the Falcons in the future.

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