Do Da Dirty Bird: Falcon in the Dawghouse
Fear not; the meaning of my triple-entendre of a headline will soon become clear. After all, it does not take the brain of an ESPN talking head to evaluate the preseason stats so far of Falcons QB D.J. Shockley.
Against the Detroit Lions, he completed three of eight passing attempts for 31 yards. He followed it up Friday night with a five-of-12, 63-yard, two-interception performance.
It all adds up to 40-percent accuracy and a big, fat question mark for his status as we near the regular season.
Keep in mind this is not easy for me to admit, let alone pleasant for me to assert. Shock led my university (albeit before it was mine) to an SEC Championship and then seemingly fortuitously landed with my hometown NFL club a year later.
As the Dirty Bird faithful know, he's spent two of the past three seasons serving faithfully as the third-string signalcaller, and his 2007 campaign was completely lost to injury, so I guess a bit of rust is understandable. But D.J. is not looking like a man fit for NFL play at the moment.
Yes, he's playing with receivers on down the chart, and yes, the men protecting him (Will Svitek, Brett Romberg, and Garrett Reynolds, among the other backup offensive linemen) are not the equivalent of starters Sam Baker, Harvey Dahl, and Tyson Clabo. But he himself is making mistakes that someone who has played the quarterback position for some time should not.
Several times against the Rams, Shock threw into double coverage or just straight-up traffic, as evidenced by his two picks. Drops are to blame for a couple of the incompletions, but D.J. was also firing the pigskin like a laser and not, well, a ball. That's indicative of nervousness and intimidation.
Once again, one might expect that considering the quantity of snaps he's gotten since he was drafted, but it would be D.J.'s job as a third-stringer to come in and not make those kind of juvenile mistakes. He'd need to get in, get the job done, and get out.
The only thing he managed to get on Friday was in trouble. The good news for Shockley is that this is preseason. The bad news is that good ole (I am an SEC crazy, mind you) John Parker Wilson has looked far better than the former Dawg.
The arguments against Mr. Three Names are obvious, and in a discussion with a non-Falcons fan, I'd be as quick as any to point them out: He's been playing against bench-warming defenses, he's only thrown eight passes at the pro level, and he's looked even more timid than D.J. at times.
But I found myself, Friday night, sounding like a broken record:
"If Shockley doesn't get his act together, he's going to lose his spot."
And this is slowly yet surely becoming the prevailing opinion amongst Falcons fans. Just check a recent Falcoholic post. As sad as I am to say it, my official prediction as of right now is that JPW bumps off my brother in Red and Black.
Now, seeing as how everything in this column up to this point has been more or less regurgitation, I'm sure you're itching for a bit of evaluation, or at least some McCurdy-type (read: "creative") suggestions.
I'd go so far as to say that Shock should get some in-game reps at other spots. We all know he was a dual threat at UGA, and there were a lot of people who, as he came out of school, said he was the type of all-purpose "athlete" who might change from QB to one of the other skill positions.
At least in practice, D.J. should run the ball, catch the ball, or at least tool around with the Wildcat. Something needs to be done to get him back in the groove.
I think it's pretty obvious that Wilson will get the majority of the time at quarterback this coming week against the Chargers. Now, wouldn't it be fun to have Shockley come out of the backfield, at least in the fourth quarter?
Thomas Brown (you know we rep Athens hard) deserves carries, but there's another former Bulldog who needs to be massaged back into the game.
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