Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE
Prior to this season, the majority of the hype in the passing game seemed to revolve around Julio Jones. The up-and-coming superstar stole the show in preseason, and it almost seemed like he, not Roddy White, would pave the way for the Falcons aerial attack in 2012. Almost.
We all took part in the discussion before the regular season was underway. Is Julio going to emerge as the clear-cut No. 1 target for Matt Ryan? How much better will Julio's numbers be? Is Julio the second coming of Jerry Rice? That last one actually materialized into an argument.
Julio is a ridiculous athlete and a phenomenal weapon for Ryan. He brings elite-level athleticism to the table as well as a constant threat to score at any time. Roddy, though, has been even more impressive in his eighth season than last year.
Drops plagued White's 2011 campaign. He finished with 15 total dropped passes, leading the entire NFL in that category. This year? Just two through eight games. It doesn't take an expert to figure out he's on pace to finish with four drops overall in 2012, this coming after he compiled 45 in the past four seasons.
White is also on pace to set career-highs in receiving yardage and first down receptions. He leads the team with 41 first downs, five more than Tony Gonzalez and 13 greater than Julio. He just set the Falcons record for all-time receptions. Don't be surprised if he sets a few personal bests the rest of the way as well.
Maybe he's just improving with experience. Maybe he's pushing himself even harder with Julio quickly becoming one of the elite receivers in today's game. Whatever the case, it's easy to see Roddy is the still the go-to guy for Ryan when he needs move the sticks, and making an easy case for another Pro Bowl selection.