Falcons Team Report
September 9, 2007
For Sporting News
New coach Bobby Petrino's power spread attack did not look too good with QB Joey Harrington at the controls. His passes did lead to two touchdowns -- for the Vikings. Harrington couldn't move the team inside the red zone and sputtered under pressure just like he did with the Lions and Dolphins. The team's decision not to make a play for former starters Daunte Culpepper (now with the Raiders) and Byron Leftwich after they were released is puzzling. Both clearly would have been upgrades over Harrington, as well as the team's other quarterbacks, Chris Redman and Casey Bramlet. . . .
Rookie Stephen Nicholas and Demorrio Williams split time at weakside linebacker in Week 1, but Nicholas is clearly being set up to be the starter. Williams, who is coming back from a pectoral injury, played the first half and Nicholas took the second half. Both are sweep rushers with the ability to get to the ball.
SCOUTING REPORT: CB Lewis Sanders was clearly an upgrade on the right side over Jason Webster, who was released. Sanders was steady in coverage against the Vikings and made sure tackles. He did not deliver big hits, as advertised, but he also didn't allow many yards after the catch. Sanders beat out second-round pick Chris Houston for the starting spot; Houston did get some time in situations where the Falcons used a three-cornerback, one-safety alignment.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: When Chris Crocker went down with a bone bruise late in the preseason, second-year DB Jimmy Williams inherited the starting free safety job. Williams, who was drafted as a cornerback, didn't make any glaring mistakes against the Vikings and was in the right spot. The team used him to help in run support, and he proved adept at getting back in coverage on deep passes. In passing situations he primarily played zone coverage. The knock on Williams is he can't turn and run with fast receivers, which is why the Falcons are avoiding using him in man-to-man coverage.
SOMETHING TO PROVE: WR Roddy White has won the starting job opposite Joe Horn as the Falcons' flanker, or "X," receiver. White's speed and ability to get deep have impressed Petrino and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. The coaches are taking a gamble by going with a player with a history of dropped passes. If White is unable to improve his concentration and start looking in passes, the Falcons will have to move on to rookie WR Laurent Robinson. WR Michael Jenkins will play out of the slot when the team goes to three- receiver sets.