Sorry, Travis Daniels. Better luck next time. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
"Dirk Koetter is going to rev up the screen game for the Falcons." That's all we heard leading up to the 2012 season. Well, it's looks like he and his squad are getting the job done so far.
As Pat Yasinskas notes, Matt Ryan attempted three screen passes on Sunday against the Chiefs. He completed all three for 36 yards, including one outstanding touchdown by Julio Jones. Last year No. 2 connected on just 16 screens for a total of 68 yards and zero scores. Progress is already being made.
Let's take a look at the Falcons second touchdown of the game in Kansas City, a Julio Jones screen pass that went for 14 yards into the end zone.
The Chiefs set up with nine defenders right at the line. Three defensive backs matched up with receivers, with the remaining six showing blitz. Kansas City only rushed five as Eric Berry sat a yard back and got picked up by Tony Gonzalez immediately. Todd McClure and Justin Blalock wasted no time getting out in front, as you'll see below they're in full sprint. Julio comes on the line looking to run his route, but quickly pulls back towards Ryan. Matty Ice played it off perfectly, staring down Roddy White before immediately turning to throw Julio's way.
Harry Douglas throws a quick cut block (which has been called into question) at Stanford Routt, while Blalock gets downfield and mauls Javier Arenas (see below). After that McClure forges ahead to take on Travis Daniels. Julio slides right out of Daniels' reach as he hits the goal line, and the Falcons take the lead.
This play was executed perfectly, and there's no reason to think they won't continue to utilize Julio's talent in these situations. Also, it appeared that No. 2 called this play at the line. Ryan knew exactly what to do here.
They won't be throwing 30 screens a game, but it was impressive to see, and Koetter will continue to work with his offense on screens going forward. I like what I see so far. Do you?