Falcons up to 68 yards on screens

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
1:06
PM ET
Call it icing on the cake, padding the stats or whatever you want. But the Atlanta Falcons now are up to a whopping 68 total yards on screen passes. Yep, the Falcons gained seven yards on a screen in their victory against Jacksonville.

For those who don’t get sarcasm, this is it. At various points throughout the season, we’ve been tracking how little the Falcons use the screen pass. Quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 16 of 19 screens. Of the quarterbacks who have started every game, Ryan has less attempts and less yards than anyone. Of the quarterbacks on the list from ESPN Stats and Information, Kansas City’s Matt Cassel comes the closest to Ryan and the Falcons. Cassel has completed 11 of 15 screens for 17 yards. But Cassel has dealt with injuries and started just nine games.

For the sake of comparison, let’s take a look at what the other NFC South quarterbacks have done on screen passes. Carolina rookie Cam Newton has thrown for a league-high 439 yards while completing 50 of 55 screens.

New Orleans’ Drew Brees is No. 4 in the league with 367 yards while completing 47 of 54 attempts. Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman has completed 34 of 39 screens for 263 yards.

Memo to Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey: I get it that Michael Turner isn’t the best receiver in the league out of the backfield and that you want to save his energy for rushing attempts. But Jason Snelling’s the kind of back that can run over people if he gets a running start, and rookie Jacquizz Rodgers is the kind of back that at least has the potential to blow by defenders any time he touches the ball. Besides, if you end up in that head-coaching job in Jacksonville, there's a guy named Maurice Jones-Drew who can have a pretty big impact on screens. So it might be a good idea to at least try a few more screens.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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