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Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Falcons up to 62 yards on screen passes

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Congratulations to the Atlanta Falcons. They have blown past the 60-yard mark on screen passes for the season.

Yep, the Falcons now have completed 14 of 16 screen passes for 62 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They’ve all been thrown by Matt Ryan. The only starting quarterbacks who have attempted fewer screen passes than Ryan are Minnesota’s Christian Ponder (15), who did not open the season as the starter, Arizona’s Kevin Kolb (14) and Kansas City’s Matt Cassel (15), who each have missed time due to injury.

I understand that the Falcons’ priority is the deep passing game, even though that hasn’t worked all that well. But I’m still perplexed by why they don’t mix in a few more screens. Rookie Jacquizz Rodgers seems like the perfect type of running back to use on screens and Jason Snelling and Michael Turner also are capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. Maybe a few more screens would help open up the deep-passing game.

For the sake of comparison, let’s look at what the other NFC South teams have done with the screen. New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Carolina’s Cam Newton are tied for No. 2 in the league with 44 attempts. Only Detroit’s Matthew Stafford (49) has attempted more screen passes.

People think of Newton as having a big arm, and he does, but he leads the league with 41 completed screens for a league-high 355 yards.

Brees has completed 39 of his screens for 265 yards. Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman has completed 27 of 31 screens for 211 yards.