Grading the Skill Players

atlQB- Matt Ryan: A

Matt played excellent this year and in comparison to his first four years, this season was his best. Say what you want about his so-called “choking” in the postseason but if it weren’t for his consistent efforts in the regular season, the Falcons would not have come close to earning a playoff berth. I am excited to see what the future has in store for the signal-caller who we Atlanta fans refer to as “Matty Ice.”

RB- Michael Turner: C-
RB- Jacquizz Rodgers: B
RB- Jason Snelling: C

We may have witnessed Turner’s worse season in an Atlanta uniform this year. I guess this didn’t come as a surprise to most of us, given the fact that the Falcons transitioned into more of a pass-first offense under OC Dirk Koetter. But can you really blame Koetter for making the transition? After all, take a look at the weapons he has to work with. With that being said, handing the ball to Turner became more of an afterthought throughout the season given the successful passing game.

Rodgers undoubtedly deserves the most improved player award. Rodgers, standing at a meager 5-6, displayed his toughness and aggressive running style throughout the year. When he came in the game, the offense was given a spark. Not to mention, he is very capable in the passing game as a receiver and as a great pass blocker. Heading in to next season I expect Rodgers to become more of a focal point of Koetter’s offense.

For the most part things remained status-quo for Snelling who pretty much only saw playing time in short-yardage scenarios. However, Snelling is like that rock a team can always lean on. He is a jack-of-all-trades kind of back who contributes as a fullback, halfback, slot receiver, and in special teams.

FB- Mike Cox: B-

Unfortunately for Cox, he was not utilized much in the flashy new offense. Solid player with elite lead-blocking skills, however I just didn’t see a great demand for him schematically.

TE- Tony Gonzalez: A

The ageless wonder. Gonzalez is, in my opinion, the lifeblood of the Falcons’ offense. In crucial situations there is one guy Matt tries to find: Tony. Just look at the game winning drive against Seattle in the NFC Divisional game. Unfortunately, we fans may have seen the last of this sure-fire future hall of famer. Greatest tight end to ever play the game.

WR-Roddy White: A

Roddy may have been the most under-looked player on the team in the eye of the public (he didn’t get voted to the pro bowl despite putting up numerous career bests). Roddy was clearly Matt Ryan’s first option on the outside. In the playoffs, against Seattle, White displayed his ability to stretch the defense, making him , in my opinion, one of the most complete receivers in the game.

WR-Julio Jones: A-

Simply put, Julio is a beast. There is no doubt in my mind that in the coming years he will emerge as one of the best in the business. This season he steadily got better and became Matt Ryan’s favorite toy in the vertical passing attack. Having caught 13 touchdowns on the season, Julio was named to the pro bowl over veteran teammate Roddy White.

WR- Harry Douglas: C-

More of the same for the underachieving Harry Douglas who failed to create mismatches in the slot.  He did have a few big moments and certainly possesses the speed and size of a slot receiver. I am Hoping for him to develop into a solid target for Matt Ryan.

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