If you were frustrated by the drops by the Falcons' receivers last week against the Chicago Bears, join the club. Both Roddy White and Julio Jones addressed their struggles with the media on Thursday, and both receivers discussed their focus in practice this week to correct the issues.
"I'm supposed to catch everything," Jones said. "We had a few drops last week, and we take it upon ourselves-me and Roddy-we hold ourselves accountable for those dropped passes. The defenders, they had nothing to do with it. It was just a lack of focus and concentration by us. This week, we're looking everything in, just going back to the little things."
"[My personal approach is] to catch them every time," White said. "That's been my primary goal my whole career. So that's what I think the majority of the time, but sometimes you get ahead of yourself and try to make people miss or try to get out of the way of hits and things like that, so you don't watch the ball all the way through, you know? So that gets you in trouble a lot, or just having too much confidence in your head that you know you're going to catch it. So that's a problem, but most of the times that you look the ball in, then you usually catch it."
White and Jones were asked if players are too focused on making a big play instead of just moving the sticks and if that mentality was contributing to the mistakes offensively.
"Coach talked about [not worrying about making the big play], too-just go out there and do your job. You don't have to go out there and do anything just like Superman," Jones said. "Just go out there and catch the ball. Routine catches, make them, and make your play."
White echoed what Jones said. "I've just been concentrating this week on just looking every ball in and that's been my focus throughout the whole week," White said. "So that's been my primary focus, just going in there and just executing the plays that are called. Don't worry about scoring touchdowns or trying to-like you said-hit a home run and go out there and try to hit 80-yard plays and stuff like that. Just be who I am and just go out there and catch balls and move the chains."
The mood in the locker room seemed very focused this week, and there does not appear to be a lot of frustration or conflict between players and coaches. Jones said that the team isn't frustrated, necessarily.
"Not at all. Not at all. I mean, this is the NFL. Those guys are just as good as we are. We've just got to start putting it together," Jones said. "We can't give up on ourselves despite what everybody else thinks about our record and how we're doing right now. We can always turn it around."
White said the frustration isn't directed at each other, but is focused inward on themselves. "Not really frustrated, just mad at ourselves, because we kind of dug ourselves this hole that we're in, just going out there and not executing plays and things like that and just going out there and basically screwing things up ourselves, dropping footballs," White said. White is convinced that the team can turn it around offensively. "You know, every week it seems like we take turns at different positions just messing up the games and everything, so all eleven guys have got to go out there and just do their job and that's got to be our focus this week. You can't have ten or eight guys doing it right and three guys not doing it right. So this week we're going to focus on all eleven players, every play, doing their job, and we'll be fine."
White and Jones have a lot of respect for the Ravens defense, particularly the pass rush. "They're pretty good in the secondary, but their front seven, it's the biggest problem for us," Jones said, "just giving Matt enough time to get the ball off and us making plays down the field."
White also emphasized the pass rush and that the Ravens secondary doesn't need to maintain coverage as long because the pass rush has a tendency to get to the quarterback regularly. "Oh, they're good. They're really good, and they can get after the passer," White said. "They can cover. Those guys don't have to cover long. They get after you in the run game." White suggested that a balanced offensive attack was the best approach to being successful against the Ravens, saying, "So we're going to have to find a way to run the ball. We have to go out there and find a way to run the ball and be positive on first downs and things like that, and get ourselves in second and short, third and short, so we can execute our plays and get drives going. I think our first-down efficiency needs to be better. We've got to go out there and get the run game going, and we haven't been able to do that."
Roddy White emphasized the impact the absence of Harry Douglas has had on this team, and said that he hopes to see Douglas back on the field next week. "It just affects us in so many different ways because he's in so many personnel groupings and things like that," White said about Douglas, "and some of the stuff that he can do-he's really good at the inside and seam routes and things like that, so we're missing him a whole lot and his ability to just kind of control the middle of the field and things like that. Hopefully we can get him back, if not this week, next week, and we'll be a lot better team, I can tell you that." Douglas, of course, is out this week, but hopefully he will make it back on the field for next week's game against the Lions in London.
Jones was asked how important it was for the sake of momentum to get a win on the road this week. Jones, as he often does, said that the next game is always an important win because it's the next game. "It's definitely important this week because it's the next game and it's on the road, so it's like killing two birds with one stone," said Jones. "We've just got to stay focused and believe in each other and go out here and try to get this W."
I asked Roddy White about the importance of focusing on one game at a time as the team heads into a tough stretch away from the Georgia Dome. "Well, you've got to take it one game at a time. We've got to win the first one before we can get to the next one," White said. "And it's going to be a very important one. This team's really good-they're really good at home. They go out there and they play physical football, so we've got to match their intensity and things like that. So we've got to go out there and just think about the Baltimore Ravens and beating the Baltimore Ravens, and then from there we'll just go game by game. But right now we're 2 and 4 and we just need to get one win."
White was asked if the team is confident that they can go on the road and get a win against a good Ravens team, and he made a very good point about the fact that what the team is seeing on film is convincing them that they're very capable of turning things around offensively. "We feel confident. Every time you look at the film, it gives you hope," White said. "You go in there and you evaluate yourself and other people and our offense and see how close we are to getting it right. So we're very confident. We know we've got to go out there and just do what we do, and that's execute every play, whatever the play is. Ten-play drives, three-play drives-whatever they are, we need to all be on the same page and we need to all go out there and do what we're supposed to do, and that's our jobs."