Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White and 4 Most Disappointing Players in 2011
The Atlanta Falcons, a common preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, have struggled early on in the season, chalking up a mediocre record of 2-3.
Something's amiss in Atlanta as the 13-3 record of last season is now a distant thought in players' minds. Right now, the Falcons just hope to keep their head above water and go .500 through the first six games of the season.
The bottom line is that the players haven't measured up to the lofty expectations bestowed upon them in the preseason. Thomas Dimitroff has done a spectacular job of assembling the pieces to make this team a championship contender. The current issue is that those pieces, some more expensive than others, aren't performing as well as they should be.
Here are four Falcons who are struggling to produce this season.
Sam Baker was drafted to protect Matt Ryan in the same draft class as Ryan himself.
With Harvey Dahl as the anchor of the line since his arrival, Baker has been able to hold down the fort. Since Dahl's departure, Baker and the entire line have struggled to protect the man affectionately known as "Matty Ice."
Baker has been penalized time and time again this season and has been man handled by several defensive linemen, namely Julius Peppers and Trent Cole.
If Baker, and the rest of the offensive line for that matter, doesn't shape up then Ryan and the Falcons could be in for a long season.
Dunta Robinson was brought in last season to help boost the success of the struggling secondary.
He was nothing extraordinary last season and has floundered under the teams high expectations this season.
He frequently is out of position or getting burned by outside receivers, and although he was brought in to be the number one corner, the stellar play of Brent Grimes has him demoted to the number two.
He's a physical corner who isn't afraid to lay people out, as evidenced by his clocking of DeSean Jackson last season and his similar helmet-popping hit on Jeremy Maclin earlier this year. His hits may look nice, but the unnecessary roughness penalties not only advance the offense but often portray a negative image of the team.
After his hit on Jackson last year, he was forced to serve a one-game suspension.
Brent Grimes and William Moore have been the bright spots of the secondary, and Thomas DeCoud hasn't been all that bad himself. No one would have predicted that it would be Robinson instead of one of the young safties or corners who would be struggling so much early on this year.
Roddy White, by all accounts has had a solid season.
The only issue is that he's Roddy White. He's an all-pro receiver who has been the anchor of the Falcons receiving core over the last four years. He led the league in receptions last season and was the most sure handed player a quarterback could ask for.
He's dropped several balls this season and has lacked the burst that made him one of the best receivers in the league. He's seen more coverage, but there are no excuses for his dropped balls and inability to extend plays like he has done in the past.
White is sure to get his head screwed on straight for the rest of the season as he is one of the most professional players at his position and doesn't plan on hindering the team's success.
He's the franchise player of this team. He brought hope to a city that just underwent one of the worst scandals in football history as it's previous franchise player, Michael Vick, was arrested and thrown in jail for two years.
His importance to the team can't be understated, but there is no sugarcoating his performance so far this season. His play has been decent. Nothing spectacular, just mediocrity at its best. Ryan is so much better than how he's played this season.
Maybe it's the offensive line that hasn't protected him enough, but Ryan is forcing passes and throwing interceptions left and right. He's quickly closing in on his total amount of interceptions from last season, and we're not even half way through this season.
It could be the addition of Julio Jones that has made Ryan hungry for big plays, but his perpetual forcing of throws this season is plaguing the offense.
Ryan has the potential to be one of the best in the league in a year or two. He isn't there yet, but he's certainly better than what he's shown.