George Henry of TSN wrote:
The goal this offseason is to expand the passing attack and address ways to limit the number of sacks. Because the team was so successful in running the ball last year, QB Michael Vick never had an urgency to improve his passing skills on deep balls, but his focus is different now. Peerless Price's lack of production notwithstanding, the team believes Michael Jenkins, Roddy White and Dez White have the speed necessary to stretch the field, and Brian Finneran runs better routes than any of his teammates. Using fewer two-tight end sets would increase opportunities for Vick in a three-receiver formation, but don't be surprised if coordinator Greg Knapp helps boost the QB's confidence and completion percentage by calling more short passes early in games to RBs Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett and FB Justin Griffith. All three move well in open space. Lowering the number of sacks is possible only if Vick stops holding the ball too long and tackles Kevin Shaffer and Todd Weiner improve protection technique against speed-rushing ends.
Our lacking passing game has been primarily blamed upon WRs and a poor offensive coordinator by most fans. But I believe our lack of a passing game is due to a shared blame, with no party more guilty than the other. I believe that blame should be spread to:
I've defended Knapp in the past, because I don't think he's as bad as some fans make him out to be. Is he an offensive genius? No, but really how many are there? Seriously, if you look around the league and talk to fans across the nation, almost every single one of them gripes about the offensive play-calling. So when a fan blames the OC on a loss, then to me, it's just nonsense. There were a lot of instances where Knapp made a poor call, but also there were just as many if not more instances when a good call was made and execution (I know, I sound like Reeves) was not made.
The WRs need to improve their ability to get open. That is hampering the play-calling and the QB, because these guys aren't beating single coverage. It allows defenses to put 8 or 9 guys in the box to stop DVD. These guys definitely need to step up. Are they terrible? No. Are they among one of the weaker WR corps in the league? Probably.
But also the guy that gets hardly any blame is Vick. And as soon as you do, people come out the woodwork and call you out on being a Falcon fan. I realize, Vick's presence alone has done more for this franchise than any other person, but still there is a line to be drawn, where selling seats and getting TV exposure stops, and playing good football begins. I'm not VIck is bad or anything, but he has a long ways to go before anyone should be calling him a quality passer. He does hold on to the ball too long, and still has ball security issues, and still has lacking field vision. IMO, whether you are working with an offensive genius and the best WRs in the world still isn't going to matter a whole lot when your QB has that going against them.
So, our passing attack is still goign to be a work in progress. The WCO takes 3 years to learn by almost all accounts, and considering Vick lacks a strong passing background as a QB, it could be even longer. So expecting him to totally turn things around this year is not in the cards, and a bit naive IMO. But I am expecting improvement from all 3 facets of this equation. Knapp's play-calling should be better. Vick's QB skills should be better. and the WRs should be better. For all 3 areas, it was a learning experience last year, a time of transition. That can't be said this year and should not be an excuse.