We’ve only seen one regular season catch from UDFA WR Marvin Hall in 2017, but it was a beauty. Hall flew down the field and took advantage of the alignment of the Miami Dolphins’ secondary to get wide open for a 40-yard TD. This play was notable not just because it was Hall’s first career catch, but because it was the arguably the first successful deep ball of Matt Ryan’s 2017 season. Ryan, after struggling to connect with receivers like Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel—players that he’s had years of experience with—managed to successfully find the young Marvin Hall.
I believe that instant connection between Ryan and Hall is noteworthy. Towards the end of the preseason, Hall found himself lining up with the first team in several situations. He managed to collect 8 receptions for 151 yards during those four games, and appeared to have won the WR6 job heading into final roster cuts. The Falcons instead elected to cut Hall and keep Nick Williams as the WR6.
Hall wound up on the practice squad and remained there until just before the Week 6 game against the Dolphins. In less than 24 hours after being elevated to the active roster, Hall caught that 40-yd TD pass from Ryan. If that doesn’t scream “instant connection”, I don’t know what does. After that impressive play, Hall saw one more target in the Dolphins game and has since barely played at all.
With Ryan starting to look more confident after a sloppy but ultimately successful effort against the Jets, is it time to get Marvin Hall more involved in the offense?
The starting WR3 is Taylor Gabriel, who is a favorite of mine and one of the reasons the 2016 offense was so historically good. But Gabriel has been completely ineffective outside of a few plays this season, and it’s clear that Sarkisian has no idea how to best utilize Gabriel’s talents. Gabriel needs to be schemed open with creative packages and rub routes, and needs to get the ball in the open field—he cannot beat press coverage and he simply isn’t effective in short-yardage and red zone situations.
The other WRs on the team have not stepped up either. Justin Hardy, outside of a few very nice catches, simply hasn’t shown anything to justify a larger role in the offense. Andre Roberts is nothing more than a depth option at this point. Nick Williams has ended up on the inactive list and may find himself off the roster soon.
Atlanta needs a third WR they can call upon on third-and-medium downs and in the red zone, and Hall might be the most capable option there. He’s shown enough speed to get open deep when called upon, he has the hands to make contested catches in tight windows, and he’s got enough size to be a factor in the red zone. While Hall isn’t quite as dynamic as Gabriel after the catch, he’s got a much better chance of getting open on short routes.
Add to all this the fact that Hall already has plenty of experience with Sarkisian at Washington, and you have a recipe for a potential surprise contributor down the road. With the rest of the options struggling and less of an emphasis on the deep ball, it might be time to start giving Hall more opportunities on offense. It’s entirely possible that Taylor Gabriel leaves for a bigger role (and/or paycheck) elsewhere in 2018, making the development of someone like Hall very important.
What do you think about the notion of Hall getting more snaps and targets? Do you think he offers more than Gabriel in certain situations, or do you still think the team should give Gabriel the majority of the WR3 snaps? Any other players you think the Falcons should target more in the passing game (aside from Tevin Coleman, because...it’s just so obvious)?