The Great Debate: Could Michael Jenkins Take the Offense to the Next Level?

In this series of posts, I seek to find the answer to questions that are brought up around here or around the various sports conversation sites. I use a realistic, low-stat opinion to generate discussion about these topics, but I also encourage the use of stats in an argument.

Today, I bring The Falcoholic a topic that I have been screaming and yelling for several weeks now. This week marks the return of Michael Jenkins to our receiving corps, and I have already started speculating about how effective he will be from this point forward.

 

I firmly believe that the return of Michael Jenkins is going to make the Falcons' offense rise up (see what I did there) to a whole new level. It may not be this week, but I believe it will be sooner rather than later. Naturally, I expect there to be some doubters, but that's alright. That's what these posts are for!

 

Let's talk about Michael Jenkins's return after the jump!

First of all, I would like to thank Football Outsiders for the stats I'll be using today, and I'd also like to thank them for suggesting "body while" and "michael redskins" in my searches. Thanks guys, your suggestions were absolutely not what I was thinking.

 

Also, thanks NFL.com for the video clips. I think I have to start doing that now, but I'm covering my behind anyway.

 

Michael Jenkins has been a very, very important part of the Matt Ryan era, as shown here (Also reminisce about how Sam Baker gets totally owned....oh wait, that's still happening.) and absolutely most importantly here. One thing I miss about NFL.com videos is that they no longer do the recaps with the radio calls. That was my favorite thing to watch after the Falcons games I couldn't see on TV. For shame.

 

I'm going to be a bit more statty (now a word) in this one because I think it merits them, to an extent.

 

As I was looking at some stats between Roddy White and Michael Jenkins from previous years, I took notice to a few things.

 

In 2009, Roddy White had a catch rate (not adjusted for anything, just catches/targets) of 52%.

In 2009, Michael Jenkins had a catch rate of 59%.

 

In 2008, Roddy White had a catch rate of 59%.

In 2008, Michael Jenkins had a catch rate of 62%.

 

See where I'm going with this? And before you say "Matt Ryan.", just know that Jenkins had a better catch rate in '07, too.

 

I also looked up a couple other receivers. I kept the receivers to just two because it would take an eternity otherwise.

 

In '09, WR A and WR B had catch rates of 67% and 61%, respectively.

In '08, A and B had catch rates of 63% and 55%, respectively.

 

In '09, A and B had YPC of 12.6 and 15.2, respectively.

In '08, A and B had YPC of 13.8 and 14.6, respectively.

 

In comparison, White and Jenkins had YPC of 13.6 and 12.7 in '09, and 15.7 and 15.5 in '08, all respectively.

 

Now, who are the two unknown receivers, you ask? Well, before I reveal them, just know that they are both #1s. Just because they are #1s doesn't mean they always draw double coverage.

 

WR A is Reggie Wayne, and WR B is Randy Moss.

 

I chose Wayne because he's a high caliber player in a heavy passing offense. Peyton knows how to spread the ball around, and he certainly knows how to exploit coverages, so really all I'm trying to draw comparisons to is the numbers.

 

I also chose Randy Moss because, despite his age, he's still a big play receiver with good size who absolutely abuses single coverage.

 

Say what you want about defenses, but defenses only do so much. The receiver still has to catch the ball when it is thrown to him. Based on catch rate alone, Michael Jenkins was better at catching than Roddy White. Obviously, it's not that simple. Bad QB throws, drops, etc.

 

White isn't exactly known for his hands, but neither is Jenkins, so I compared Jenkins to Wayne and Moss of the past two years to see where they stacked up. Yes, Jenkins is not a number 1 receiver, however I feel like he is talented enough to require some respect from opposing defenses.

 

I'm no stat genius, and I certainly don't claim to be one, but the numbers don't lie here. Our youngling QB was flinging it to Jenkins just as effectively as he was to White, and Jenkins was producing fairly well based on catch rate and yards per catch.

 

The 90 yard TD pass to White last year, for instance. If you haven't watched it, you should. Here is the link.

 

Watch very closely. Or rather, you don't have to watch closely at all, for there is a man in white that is trailing White and doing a darn good job of it. Why, it's none other than Michael Jenkins! Jenkins actually runs down White, to an extent, while they're both running at full speed. Naturally, this doesn't always translate into route running, but hopefully by now you're starting to see the point I'm trying to make.

 

Michael Jenkins is a talented receiver. Yes, he does drop passes, but so do many other receivers. I can't tell you how many passes HD has dropped this year already, and we're not calling for his head.

 

Jenkins is not only talented enough to be our legitimate #2, but he's talented enough to make a difference in this offense. He is big, he can run, and he can catch.

 

He's not on the same level of Boldin (although his YPC in recent years is similar) but he is in the same mold. Jenkins is a talented guy who is merely behind someone who is simply more talented than he. That's not to say Jenkins would start anywhere else because he's not on that level, but he would be just about anyone else's #2, for sure.

 

I fully believe that, in the next few weeks, we're going to see what the Falcons offense is really capable of doing. Many people, including myself, have questioned the consistency of the offense at times because there are games when we play like champions (ARI) and games when we play like fails (PIT).I believe that's because we've been leaning heavily on Roddy and Gonzo. HD and Finn are solid players, but neither player strikes fear into opposing defenses. I believe the return of Jenkins can and will cause Defensive Coordinators to take a second look at our offense.

 

The return of Jenkins also opens up another aspect of the offense, that being HD's true purpose.

 

Jenkins not only returns as our #2, but he also solidifies HD as our slot #3 guy. That's something we've been asking for since day one, and now we have it. Jenkins will receive respect on his side of the field, which will draw eyes away from HD, and that is where this offense will start to bare its fangs.

 

I am very excited to see how Jenkins will be utilized in his first game since his injury. My expectations for him on a personal level are tempered, but I think his presence on the field will immediately make a difference.

 

What do you all think? Do you think Jenkins could be the key to unlocking the next level of the Falcons offense? Or will he simply just be another warm body out on the field in our base, running offense? Will he be used primarily for blocking? I look forward to discussing this with you all!

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