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 Post subject: Special Teams, Not Catches, Crucial to Picking No. 5 WR
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:19 pm 
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It's interesting that the article talks about the No. 5 WR, but when you read Smith's comments about the lack of 4-wide sets, what it's also saying is that the No. 4 WR will primarily play special teams as well.

http://blog.atlantafalcons.com/jayadams ... g-no-5-wr/

Special Teams, Not Catches, Crucial to Picking No. 5 WR
Jay Adams
Published July 30, 2012 at 12:33 PM

You’ll read it nearly every day if you’re on Twitter: “Kevin Cone just made a great catch,” or “James Rodgers is really quick off the ball and runs nice routes.”

It may lead some to believe that those abilities have created front-runners for the race at the No. 5 wide receiver position, but the truth is, the person who earns that position will be much more adept at special teams than running routes and catching passes.

“In our scheme and who we have at tight end, we won’t be in too many four wide sets,” head coach Mike Smith said during the weekend. “The fifth receiver would be put in the ball game because of injuries. The majority of his snaps will be played on special teams. It will be heavily weighted towards his production on special teams.”

Knowing this, Cone, Rodgers and other contenders — Drew Davis, Tim Toone, Kenny Stafford, Marcus Jackson and Michael Calvin — are focused on really shining during the usual 20-minute period before the start of practice devoted to special teams.

That’s why Cone goes all out during punt block drills, why Rodgers takes every punt return like it’s the real thing, why Toone — just added days ago and likely behind the rest of his teammates at the position — likely feels fortunate to be in the mix at the punt return spot.

“I think special teams is very important because every guy that comes into the National Football League, they have to play special teams,” Rodgers said. “I’m just doing whatever they need me to do, and if that’s going down there and covering kicks, blocking kicks, returning balls, then that’s what I have to do to make the team.”

If there is a front-runner at this stage of the game, however, Cone could probably be considered it, simply based on his past. Cone was signed as an undrafted free agent after 2011 Russell Athletic Atlanta Falcons Training Camp started and earned a spot on the practice squad before eventually being signed to the active roster late in the season and participating on special teams — particularly the kickoff coverage team.

With that experience, it could translate to a better understanding of his responsibilities and what he needs to do to earn that No. 5 position outright.

“I think it carries over a lot. I learned a lot about myself and learned what I need to do to put myself at the next level as far as depth chart and my abilities on the field on special teams,” Cone said. “I think I learned a lot and it’s going to correlate a lot to the field this year.”

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 Post subject: Re: Special Teams, Not Catches, Crucial to Picking No. 5 WR
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:40 pm 
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Quote:
“In our scheme and who we have at tight end, we won’t be in too many four wide sets,” head coach Mike Smith said during the weekend


I have to admit, with Mularkey gone I was hoping that the Falcons might open it up a bit more in 2012, but quotes like this from Smitty brings me back to reality. As long as he is in charge, we will be a run first team and not spreading it out.


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 Post subject: Re: Special Teams, Not Catches, Crucial to Picking No. 5 WR
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:44 pm 
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That was already evidenced by the fact that 4 out of their 7 big off-season additions (Top 4 picks, and 3 FA/trade pickups) were devoted to beefing up the run: Konz, Holmes, Manuwai, and Ewing.

That plus they decided to retain Michael Turner for an exorbitant price shows that this team remains committed to being a "balanced" team. But what they consider to be balanced is essentially a run-first team despite the fact that they don't run the ball the majority of the time.

So that this makes it extremely difficult for this team to achieve the dream of Thomas Dimitroff of having a No. 1 and No. 1-A wide receivers. Because what is truly indicative of a No. 1 WR is someone that sees about 20% or more of the passes thrown. You look at the teams last year that had 2 WRs that saw at least 20% of targets were Indy, PIttsburgh, and New York.

As the Steelers show, being that sort of passing attack and having a solid to good running game aren't incongruous. But what I think is incongruous is having a RB like Turner. Turner needs a ton of carries to work. Mendenhall isn't the world's greatest RB, but what he is quick, explosive, and doesn't require a FB to block for him. He doesn't need an elite blocking OL to be an effective runner. In the past, Turner didn't need that either. But at this point in his career, he does.

So the bottom line for me is that if this team wants to be the sort of offense that they claim to want to be, it requires them moving away from the running game or getting a different starting RB. They say they're moving away from the running game, but it's hard to believe when you have Smitty making statements like this and the fact that the majority of their off-season resources were devoted to beefing up the ground attack.

Now I do believe they will throw the ball more, but whether they are actually effective doing that (like the Giants or Steelers were last year) remains to be seen.

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