Something else Shanahan got right: Roddy White wasn’t indispensable

photos-medleyphoto-10076048

Kyle and Roddy, together no more. (John Bazemore/AP photo)

Today’s AJC included an 865-word mea culpa from yours truly to Kyle Shanahan. Due to space constrictions, I didn’t mention someone who was one of the biggest names in Flowery Branch for more than a decade and left without a kind word for the Atlanta Falcons’ current offensive coordinator. I did not mention Roddy White.

White was largely ignored as a on-field target last season, after which he was cut. Lots of people, the man himself included, thought this constituted a willful act of neglect/disrespect. Here we make two notations:

1. White, who turned 35 last month, hasn’t played in the NFL this season.

2. Mohamed Sanu, his nominal replacement as No. 2 receiver, has been better than White was last year.

White in 2015: Targeted 70 times in 16 games; 43 receptions for 506 yards and one touchdown; averaged 2.7 catches and 30.3 yards per game; had a catch percentage (catches divided by targets) of 61.4; averaged 11.8 yards per catch; longest reception was 25 yards.

Sanu in 2016: Targeted 73 times in 13 games; 52 receptions for 565 yards and three touchdowns; is averaging 4.0 receptions and 43.5 yards per game; has a catch percentage of 71.2; is averaging 10.2 yards per catch; longest reception is 59 yards.

There’s not a massive difference in any single category, but there is an aggregate difference. We can’t know if Shanahan ignored White out of spite (though it’s unclear why someone running an offense wouldn’t seek to maximize every resource) or if White, who had six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2007 through 2012, simply couldn’t get open anymore.

We can, however, know this: White in 2015 didn’t have a game where he caught every pass thrown his way; of the 16 passes thrown toward Sanu over his past four games, he has caught 15. And he did haul down the game-winner against Green Bay with 31 seconds remaining. White’s one touchdown of 2015 came in the first half of a game the Falcons trailed by 14 points and would lose by 10.

Sanu is second among Falcons in times targeted. The Falcons have thrown the ball toward Jones 40 more times than to Sanu. White was fourth among Falcons in targets last season, when the ball was thrown his way 133 fewer times than Julio’s. I’m pretty sure no offense wants that much of a separation between its No. 1 and No. 2. I’m absolutely sure the issue has been addressed.

The intent here isn’t to tweak Roddy White. There was a time when he ranked alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson as the NFL’s best receiver. But he ceased being the Falcons’ No. 1 shortly after Julio arrived — White’s age was among the reasons Thomas Dimitroff traded five picks for the chance to draft the Alabama man — and he obviously wasn’t what Shanahan had in mind. And we can’t say the Falcons have suffered in his absence, can we?

Reader Comments 0

28 comments
Falcons63
Falcons63

Perhaps someone should tell DLed that it wasn't some great conspiracy headed by Shanahan to keep Roddy from getting the ball last season.  Week after week we got a report from Mr. Ledbetter about what a mystery it was as to why the Falcon's were purposefully keeping the ball from Roddy.  I remember him quoting his "unnamed league sources' that were telling him White was open but was being ignored. I saw the Falcons play 3 games last season in person and the rest of the games on television.   Honestly, Roddy had lost more than just a step.  He looked to unable to get any separation.  I remember during the Redskins game  early on Ryan looked to hit Roddy on an out route in what seemed an obvious effort to get him involved in the gameplan  The Redskins DB jumped the route and almost intercepted the ball.  He had no fear of Roddy running by him.   When you lack the quickness to separate and you can't run by the DB you are in trouble.  In a league were employment is based solely upon results, it's ridiculous to think a coach isn't playing the guys he thinks gives the team the best chance of winning.  The coaches see every move at practice.  It may not be apparent to fans or writers, but those guys want to win.  They want to stay employed!!  Roddy was a great Falcon.. maybe the best WR ever.  Unfortunately, Father Time catches up with everyone. 

DerekGator
DerekGator

Nobody was saying that Rody hasn't lost a step but on a team that carries 7 wide receivers on their active roster, he deserved a spot as the 4th or 5th receiver. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@DerekGator When Roddy made the statement (I'm not here to block, I'm here to catch passes", they should have cut him then. 4th & 5th receivers are a dime a dozen not 5$ million a year players with an attitude.

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

Other than Steve Smith (possible future HOF) and Jerry Rice (best WR ever), what WR play great (or even at all) in to their mid and late 30's?  The fact that Roddy played until age 34, meant he played above and beyond the mileage that would have been expected.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Roddy, after having the drops his first season, became a very good receiver for most of his career.

Bart was a good qb for most of his career. He got too old to play.

So did Roddy. It happens. Move on.

Eric_C
Eric_C

Save this debate for after the season.  What I want to know right now is will the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff and team perform under pressure, in the 4th quarter of a tight playoff game (assuming they get there).  In 4 of the 5 losses this season, the Falcons blew 4th quarter leads due to breakdowns on defense, offense, and in decision-making.

KBP
KBP

@TruthReallyHurts We'll agree to disagree about Roddy and Jordy. I saw Roddy's entire career and only saw Green Bay's nationally televised games so I don't know as much about Jordy as you do. I know for 6 years Roddy averaged over 1,100 yards receiving per year and was considered on the same level as Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson by some in the national media. Jordy may end up with better career stats than Roddy but that may be the function of during Roddy's prime we had Michael Turner and was a run first team for 5 years. Green Bay has not been a run first team since Bret Favre. Jordy has benefitted from a pass first offense and rightfully so. I think there's room to acknowledge his ability without diminishing Roddy's.

Theodore L. Bowles
Theodore L. Bowles

So what's the point of this article? Kicking a guy that gave years of super service to the Falcons and piling on more disrespect like clumsy Kile? Kudos to you. You excel at beating a dead horse!

TideDawg
TideDawg

As it's been said before......A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. Same for a team. White had become the weakest link in the Falcon's chain. He was well paid for his services, and I think they are still paying him. Pro football is a business and businesses go down with poor business decisions. It was time for White to go.

DoctorBuddy
DoctorBuddy

Roddy White was a good Falcons player. He represented the team well and obviously was very popular with the fan base. It's hard to wear his jersey now, and being the only one I have, what can you do?

RickRN69
RickRN69

 no one thinks roddy was indispensable but the way he was treated was disrespectful he gave 100% and he deserved to treated better than that...anyone and everyone can be replaced

KBP
KBP

@Truthreallyhurts, Roddy was not as good as Jordy Nelson? Are you serious? Nelson has probably been under rated by most NFL fans but he has a bit more to accomplish to surpass Roddy's career stats. Jordy's a tremendous receiver but was not better than Roddy in his prime.

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

@KBP Nonsense! Nelson is bigger, faster, more explosive and made more big plays than White ever did. He's starting to get back into the groove late this season after major knee surgery. Nelson was always better than White, even in White's prime, and he'll go down as a better receiver than White when his career is over.

moboman
moboman

WR -- the most replaceable position on the field.  As seen in the last two games.

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

@moboman RB Is easily the most replaceable position year in and year out in the NFL.  Todd Gurly will likely be out of the NFL in 5 years.  

58Supersports
58Supersports

 Super job Mark. Glad the mouth of the south is gone and not missed.

Sanu is doing a great job and team player.

R Tooty
R Tooty

Hey, at some point in life you ain't what u used to be.  Roddy was a great Falcon but age was passing him by.  Thanks for the good years.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Mark, you write about what you think, not what you know. That transformation of Shannahan from pariah to genius took place after he, Matt Ryan, Quinn, and Blank, supposedly had a meeting to resolve differences. If you know what went on in that meeting, if there was a meeting, and how Shannahan and Ryan resolved their differences......write about it and let us know. Everything started jelling overnight and that is not logical without an agreement on what was best for the team. Regardless, Shannahan's play calling has been exceptional and Ryan's execution of the plays has been great. Whatever put them on the same page has gotten them in a position to compete for a playoff spot.

Dirtybirdfan4life
Dirtybirdfan4life

Alex mack got them on the same page look at last year center compare to this year's no flukey snaps/fumbles

SouthGeorgiaStrong
SouthGeorgiaStrong

Have to disagree Roddy did a great job for  Atlanta. Just another useless Bradley article. You know his story kick em' why they are down. Always has been a joke as a writer

RonMexico
RonMexico

@SouthGeorgiaStrong Roddy did a great job for Atlanta...until he didn't. You can't honestly think he was worthy of a roster spot, much less the WR2 position, after his last two seasons here; he became essentially useless as a receiver because his body broke down with age and injuries. 

But some people won't be happy unless they have something to whine about, so my guess is that nobody can convince you that you're wrong. Even though you are.

khd713
khd713

@SouthGeorgiaStrong Where did Bradley ever say White didn't do a great job for Atlanta? He was great until his last year, the first under Shanahan, as Bradley notes. And then, he was worse than Sanu has been as his replacement. You need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

Mark, any chance you were writing another Fredi Gonzales hit piece and thought "Wait a tic! What other guy that hasn't been employed in a year can I passively bash for no real reason?"

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

Though he was a "good" NFL receiver, Roddy White was never elite. To say he was ranked along side Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson is laughable. Roddy White is not and was never as good as the Packers' Jordy Nelson. Roddy was a good, better-than-serviceable receiver, but he was never elite.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Maybe he has enough money and wants to be able to find his car in the parking lot at the ripe old age of 50?

candlin14
candlin14

The citys beef with Shanahan is the fact that last season he slapped the fans in the face by throwing 3 straight passes to Roddy after fans complaining. The fact that he did not make one single adjustment after the 5-0 start was embarrassing to say the least. 


He calls some decent plays and runs a good offense. However, this season is still not over and we will see if he can be creative to finish the season and most importantly when the season is on the line in the playoffs.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Did any other NFL teams have Roddy in for a tryout?  Seasoned receivers get signed all the time because of injuries during the season.  Seems reasonable to assume that everybody else saw the same thing the Falcons saw.  He was a great Falcon but he left the game kicking and screaming.  Sad!