Sunday, September 29, 2013
Ailing White not helping Falcons in red zone
By Vaughn McClure
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Roddy White admitted he is hurting ... his team.
The Atlanta Falcons receiver refuses to let his recovery from a high-ankle sprain keep him out of the lineup as he prepares for his 130th consecutive game. Yet White realizes his health has contributed to the team’s red-zone woes.
"Because a lot of times people are dictating coverage, especially the last two weeks, based on what I can do," White said. "And right now, I’m not at full strength. It kind of limits actually what we can do in the red zone."
The Falcons enter Sunday night’s game against the Patriots tied for 17th in the league in red-zone offense. They have scored six touchdowns in 12 red-zone trips, a percentage both head coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter would like to see increase.
White has just seven catches this season and has yet to score a touchdown. Of his seven touchdown catches last season, four occurred in the red zone, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That was third-most on the team behind Tony Gonzalez (eight) and Julio Jones (seven).
So how can White be effective in the red zone now, based on his current health status?
"It’s kind of tough to say," White said. "A lot of times, I’m backside right now just trying to draw coverages. It’s a tough situation. As I get better, a lot of things will get better. We’ll be more efficient and things like that.
"We just have to keep doing what we do. We’ve got a lot of people banged up. We’ve got to get through this stage of getting everybody healthy and getting all our weapons back."
White has an idea of what the Falcons can do, collectively, to be more efficient in the red zone.
"We just have to get ourselves in a lot more short-yardage situations," White said. "We keep finding ourselves in third-and-8, third-and-9 trying to score touchdowns, and that’s hard to do in any league. Especially when they’re dropping eight people out … (there are) no zones, no windows to throw the ball into.
"We just have to get in third-and-5, third-and-4, third-and-3 where they have to come after us and play some man-to-man coverage, and we can beat guys one-on-one."
For the record, the New England Patriots have surrendered three touchdowns in six red-zone trips for their opponents.