Falcons receiver Roddy White is a polarizing character. He speaks his mind unapologetically, and sometimes that makes people angry. What he said in an interview with Carl Dukes and Kordell Stewart on Atlanta's 92.9 The Game on Saturday, however, is difficult to dispute.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shared some excerpts from White's take on the state of the Falcons. White says that, in retrospect, it would have probably been smarter to sit for a couple of games at the beginning of the season to allow the high ankle sprain sustained in preseason to heal fully, rather than playing as a decoy. Whites productivity has done little but decline over the course of the season, and he has added a hamstring injury to the still-healing high ankle sprain. The prevailing perspective among Falcons fans seems to mirror White's--we wish he would have waited to return to the field until he was 100% prepared physically.
On the team, White said that the Falcons currently lack an identity. They're not doing anything particularly well on either side of the ball that they can hang their collective hats on, and that's a shift from previous seasons. With such a significant number of key players injured, weaknesses along both lines, and a lot of young starters adjusting, that's not surprising. It's imperative that they find an identity. A healthy Roddy White and Steven Jackson would help on offense, while young players settling into their respective roles on defense will firm up a sense of identity on that side of the ball.
Speaking of Steven Jackson, White said that once Jackson is back on the field, he expects him to be used as a receiver more than he might have been had Julio Jones not sustained a season-ending injury. Jackson has great skill as a receiver, and it's part of the reason he was such a natural fit for Atlanta's offense. Short of magically acquiring a Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant-type player, Atlanta can't fully compensate for the loss of Julio Jones, but having Steven Jackson's versatility back in the offensive attack will certainly help.
When asked about the Falcons' red zone performance to date, White was succinct, saying they "suck" in the red zone. Against the Jets, the Falcons' red zone efficiency was a spectacular 80%, even though they lost, anyway. The average for the season is 47.83%, which does basically suck.
Kordell Stewart asked White if head coach Mike Smith is losing the team, and White's answer confirmed that the locker room is behind Smitty all the way. White also said the season has been particularly frustrating, because the team can see on film that they are a handful of plays away from being 4-1 or 5-0, so they know that if they correct mistakes, there is no reason they can't finish strong. How strong, you ask? White would like to go 11-0 for the remainder of the season, and then, in White's words, "we'll be right where we need to be."
You can read the rest of the excerpts from the interview on the AJC's website.