Considering how disappointing the Atlanta Falcons were as a team in 2014, there proved to be a plethora of candidates for who was the most disappointing player. My pick is the same as it was during midseason, which was wide receiver Roddy White.
White was certainly better in the second half of 2014 than he was in the first. But he was such a non-factor for the first half of the season that he would have had to become one of the team’s best players in the second half just to balance things out. And that did not prove to be the case, as White was outshined by Harry Douglas in several games down the stretch. To the point that, one could certainly argue that Douglas was really the Falcons’ de facto No. 2 receiver for much of 2014 opposite Julio Jones.
For White, considering I ranked him as the team’s third-best player prior to the season, to essentially be playing at a backup level for much of 2014 was massively disappointing.
Now as I noted throughout the first half of the season, I think the reason for White’s significant decline had mostly to due with injury rather than age. But the two issues are somewhat related. White turned 33 this past season and his body isn’t able to recover as quickly as it once was. That has been the case the past two years where White has missed significant time. Even though White only missed two games this past year, the reality is that he was such a non-factor in several others that he might as well been a healthy scratch.
White had a knee injury that limited him in the offseason, and he aggravated that injury in the team’s Week 1 win over the New Orleans Saints. That slowed him down considerably over the next several weeks. His effectiveness was further sapped as the season wore on due to hamstring and ankle injuries. Not to mention the fact that he suffered tragedy in the offseason due to the murder of his brother that certainly couldn’t have made playing football easier.
There’s certainly reasons to believe that a fully healthy White could bounce back in 2015, but there’s also plenty of reasons to believe that White may struggle to be fully healthy for the remainder of his Falcon career.
Other players I considered for most disappointing were defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson, tight end Levine Toilolo and linebacker Paul Worrilow. But none of those players had quite the high expectations that were placed on White to really surpass him. By and large they were all expected to be role players, not playmakers for the Falcons in 2014.