There's nothing "relative" about the Falcons' receiving corps any more. Anywhere, anytime, to anyone, they kick tail.
Yes, I'm on a bit of a delusional high having just got back from the crushing of our rival Carolina Panthers at the Dome. But I doubt I'm alone when I say what was once considered a weakness on this team—the void that prompted us to use several high draft picks on wide receivers in the middle of the decade—has become the strength of our strengths.
No disrespect intended to Michael Turner the Burner, who very much turned up the heat in Week Two with over 100 yards. And same goes for Matty "Ice" Ryan, who can seemingly do nothing wrong.
But between Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, Marty Booker, Brian Finneran, and Tony Gonzalez (good lord, Tony Gonzalez!), much love was spread and many TDs were scored this nasty afternoon in the Dirty.
The numbers look fairly similar to last week, both in terms of total yards through the air (229 to 220) and distribution (five different guys with double figures yards, each). Makes it look like we remained pretty even, but allow me to explain the key difference, one that showed that the offense actually improved:
We were completely unpredictable today. Last week, guys were effective here and there (namely Jerious Norwood, White, and Jenkins), but when we needed the yards badly, we went to Gonzo. Towards the end of the game, if we were stalling, everyone knew where the ball was going.
Not saying it's a bad thing to use the top pass-catching tight end ever as your fallback receiver.
But had we continued to do that this week, I have a hunch that the Panthers would have caught on, and the Patriots (with their secret cameras) would have definitely been ready for it in Week Three.
But today, Gonzo (who's had over 70 yards in both contests so far), even though he led the team again, was just "one of the guys." Several times when we needed that first down, we mixed it up and went to Roddy, Jenks, or Booker. Carolina simply could not handle them all.
It's one of those classic DDDB ideas that you all know so well, and it's becoming increasingly true. Aren't you glad you read my column?
This progress is merely a sign of a process, though. We're working with our new tool (Tony G) and finding more and better ways to incorporate him along with White and the rest of the regular wideouts.
It's not like we forked over that money to Roddy a few weeks ago so that he could play second-fiddle.
For one, the Falcons don't play fiddles or other such bluegrass-y instruments; they're more rock-and-roll. I like to think of it this way: Gonzalez, White, Jenks, Book, the whole crew, every one of them can shred an electric guitar solo (of a catch) should the song (play) call for it.
Right now offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is experimenting with the band he has, and because of their all-around, top-to-bottom quality, even though he's just fooling around, he's getting amazing results.
The great thing (or more accurately, one of the many great things) is that Mularkey can continue to tweak. We see a truly elite secondary for the first and last time in Week Nine, when the 'Skins come to town. No disrespect to the Jets, Bills, or Philadelphia's Asante Samuel, but in terms of defensive backs, our receivers have the table largely beat.
Going forward, I hope for even more balance and unpredictability. I honestly have little trouble imagining a game in which Ice throws for 240 yards, of which 60 go to Gonzo, 60 to White, 60 to Jenkins, 30 to Booker, and 30 to Finn. Or insert Norwood (assuming he's alright after today), or Snelling, or Mughelli...
Catch my drift?
I can see why some people might be a little bit distressed at the fact that the man labeled (and paid) as No. 1 hasn't topped 50 yet. Roddy is apparently happy, though, and the key for literally every member of the team (Ryan stressed this at the postgame press conference) is winning.
That's what the Dirty Birds are doing. Ron Jaworski would tell them:
"Play on, playa."
And I would echo his sentiments.