This week in the Falcons Mailbag, I basically bribed you on Twitter, saying the best question would get an Osi Umenyiora signed football. I know, I know, but it worked and it got some great responses. Keep following along on Twitter @FalconsJAdams as I’ll continue to give some things away. Here’s the nearly all Paul Worrilow mailbag this week:
Answer: Yes, it was, in some way that defies the rules of the English language. And it’s a winning one, at that. Congratulations, Ryan, for making me laugh. Enjoy your Osi Umenyiora football. It’s nice to see that Paul Worrilow has taken on a Chuck Norris-like status among the fans. I hear that Paul Worrilow can cut through a hot knife with butter.
Answer: Head coach Mike Smith wouldn’t divulge the answer to this question during his Monday press conference, stating that it would be like giving away a competitive advantage to the Buccaneers. That doesn’t keep us from speculating, right? The scenario you described, Scott, seems possible in my eyes. Worrilow has experience at all three LB positions dating back to his Delaware days, so seeing him slide to the middle wouldn’t be overly surprising. That would make your corps: Sean Weatherspoon at weakside, Worrilow in the middle and Joplo Bartu at strong. But don’t be so quick to dismiss Akeem Dent. That’s the conundrum facing the Falcons coaching staff this week. How do you shoehorn four linebackers into three spots? If I had to guess, however, your scenario would be my choice.
Answer: I think shooting for Defensive Rookie of the year might be asking a bit much at this point for Worrilow, but he’s certainly on par with a few other rookie outside linebackers, most of whom have had an entire season in starting roles to work with. At that spot, let’s take a quick look at three of the top rookie linebackers and compare them to Worrilow. Oakland’s Sio Moore (No. 66 overall selection), St. Louis’ Alec Ogletree (No. 30 overall selection) and teammate Joplo Bartu (undrafted) have all had solid years at 4-3 OLB spots. Worrilow, who hasn’t registered a sack yet, falls at the bottom of the list among the other three, but he’s at No. 2 in total tackles through nine games with 55. If you look at the graph below, Worrilow is represented by the white triangle, while the other three are different shades of gray. The orange triangle represents the league average. So you can see that Worrilow is on the right path, but he’s a bit off the league average. Meanwhile, Bartu, with four sacks this year, is much closer to the league average.
I encourage you to take a look at NFL.com’s Stat Lab if you’d like to see how Worrilow compares to other LBs. As far as the DROY portion of your question, Worrilow would have to do quite a bit to catch up with contenders like Sheldon Richardson (Jets DT – 41 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF) and Kiko Alonso (Buffalo LB – 99 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF, 4 INT), but there’s definitely enough time for Worrilow to put together a more solid body of work through the next seven games.
Answer: The Falcons currently rank 32nd in the league in rush yards per game at 64.3. That certainly wasn’t the plan for a team that went out to grab Steven Jackson in March. Head coach Mike Smith recognized the run game shortcomings in his Monday press conference and laid out a few causes for the issues, namely in Sunday’s loss to Seattle. Individual blocks and combination blocks, Smith said, weren’t executed well up front. Running to the point of attack — that is, hitting the hole the play is designed for — has also been a concern for Smith. Seattle was able to stack eight men in the box on a fairly regular basis and it resulted in the tough sledding the Falcons faced in rushing for just 64 yards against a team that had averaged more than 115 given up per game to that point. That’s what made getting the backside block taken care of so important, because of the extra man on defense stacked inside, but Smith said that wasn’t done on a consistent basis in Sunday’s game. Smith basically laid out the entire cause for the run game deficiencies to this point and the Falcons will use it as a blueprint to help get things going on the ground.