The Atlanta Falcons are up on our tour of team-by-team mailbags.
Lloyd in Baton Rouge, La., writes: Part of the problem with Dunta Robinson's "tackle" of DeSean Jackson is that it wasn't a tackle, it was a hit. I've watched the play quite a few times and I saw someone who launched himself like a projectile and someone who drove his shoulder into the opponent. I didn't see someone who was trying to actually tackle. I saw someone who was trying to make a highlight-reel hit on a player that would be shown on SportsCenter. If you look around the league, this is too common of an occurrence. Too many players aren't tackling anymore, they are throwing themselves at the opponent and hoping they go down. There needs to be a cultural change in the NFL where the fundamentals of tackling are focused on so that the human projectile becomes obsolete.
Pat Yasinskas: Lloyd is a die-hard Saints fan and I hope he doesn’t mind being included in a Falcons mailbag. But I’ve gotten hundreds of letters on the Robinson hit and I think Lloyd sums it up the whole situation about as well as anything else I’ve seen.
Paul in Georgia writes: I hate that it has come to this, but I think every fan can agree that something has to be done about these brutal hits. There have been many questionable decisions concerning rules recently, but I think the league is right on this one. As a Falcons fan, I hate that Robinson was fined, but what if it had been Roddy White that took the hit? Does a Panther fan want Steve Smith to take that hit? Same could be said for any WR in the league that makes a difference. I want a defender thinking twice about leading with his head to take out Tony Gonzalez, Roddy or any of our other play makers.
Pat Yasinskas: By its actions, it’s obvious the NFL feels that way. They realize this situation needs to be addressed and they issued some very big fines for three of Sunday’s hits. The league also made it clear Wednesday that suspensions will be possible for illegal hits in the future.
Irwin in Jackson, Miss., writes: Can you tell me where the money goes when a player gets fined? I assume it doesn't go to the team, but does it go to a general fund for the NFL?
Pat Yasinskas: The money goes first to an NFL fund. Then, it is passed out at the end of the season to a variety of charities. The league usually makes an announcement at the end of the year about which charities benefited from the fine money.
Otis in Iraq, by way of Thomson, Ga., writes: I keep hearing that the Falcons need to open the passing game up. I think the real problem is a lack of deep pass attempts. Michael Turner can't get going since we only seem to pass the ball within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage which leaves eight or nine players in the box since the safeties don't respect anything deep. If the Falcons could just throw a few more deep balls that would make the safeties play off and give the linebackers something to think about which in turn will open the run up for Turner and the short-medium pass plays up for Tony Gonzalez and Michael Jenkins even more. What are your thoughts?
Pat Yasinskas: I’m with you all the way. Don’t get me wrong, I think the addition of Gonzalez was a good thing all the way around. But I think he also provides what might be a bit too much of a safety net for Matt Ryan. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think back on Ryan’s rookie year and I seem to recall a fair amount of plays where he took deep shots down the field for White and Harry Douglas. Maybe he was taking some chances, but they seemed to work. I think the Falcons need to be a little less conservative and just let Ryan go out and “wing’’ it downfield a few times a game.