After piling up 1,389 yards last year, Roddy White has just 881 in 12 games in 2011. (AP)
The Falcons' offense was a comedy of errors in Sunday's loss to the Texans, and the problems started from the get-go. Matt Ryan missed both Julio Jones and Roddy White on a couple of long balls, and threw an interception off a flea-flicker.
White, who continues to lead the league in dropped passes, presented a solution to Atlanta's passing problems Wednesday: Stop throwing deep.
"I have no idea," White said. "I don’t even know the answer for it. I don’t know, I think we should just scrap it and just do something else. We should just do some other things. We’ve missed a lot of them this year. I don’t really have an answer — we hit them at practice. We just can’t seem to hit them in a game."
It's hard to say if White was totally serious with his comments or not -- Knox Bardeen of AtlantaFieldReport.com wrote that White laughed after his comment, but it "wasn't a really convincing laugh."
The Falcons had a pair of 26-yard passing plays in the loss to the Texans, one to Jones and one to Tony Gonzalez. White managed four catches for 51 yards, with his longest reception going for 16 yards.
White has just four catches of 30 or more yards this season and only one (43 yards) of more than 40 yards. Jones, for comparison's sake, has four catches of 40 yards or longer.
Ryan's long-distance numbers remain pretty decent when compared with the rest of the league. He's ninth in 20-plus yard completions (41) and tied for 10th in 40-plus-yarders (7). But he's also averaging just 7.2 yards per pass attempt, which puts him smack-dab in the middle of the league at No. 16 in that category.
All of those numbers are fine, but not exactly what Atlanta had in mind when it drafted Jones to pair with White on the outside.
Is it the play calling? The offensive line? Ryan? Maybe the correct answer is a combination of all three.
Atlanta's QB has never been a huge deep-ball threat in this league. In his three previous seasons as the Falcons' starter, he ranked 11th, 23rd and 24th in completions over 20 yards. The big passing play has been a threat but never a consistent reality in Ryan's tenure.
Jones, though, has terrific speed for a wide receiver -- his health has limited that a decent amount in 2011 -- and Atlanta hoped to generate more of a quick-strike attack this season.
That hasn't happened. And it certainly did not happen last Sunday in Houston, when the Falcons missed on the home run early, then struggled to move the ball for the remainder of the game. "If we hit the early ones, it’s a different ball game," White said Wednesday. "But, we didn’t hit them and we didn’t get off to the start that we wanted."