We continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the Atlanta Falcons’ top five offensive weapons. Falcons football is just 44 days away. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
Kicking off the countdown of the top-five offensive weapons with the offensive line coming in at number five may not have been quite agreeable by most. Nonetheless, the offensive line play has been magnified for quite some time and their play is crucial once again for this season.
After watching what unfolded this past season on offense, the need for key weapons not named Julio Jones was easily to observe. Longtime Falcons receiver Roddy White regressed in 2015 and was not brought back to suit up for Atlanta in 2016 and beyond. So in 2016, the offense, under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, will have to rely heavily on who I select as the fourth top offensive weapon for the Falcons in 2016, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
Falcons top offensive weapon No. 4: Mohamed Sanu
The 26-year-old receiver signed a five-year deal this offseason to be the No. 2 guy next to Julio and attempt to upgrade a receiver corps that was lackluster outside of Julio’s amazing season.
Four seasons in Cincinnati didn’t show a great amount of production from Sanu, which warranted the criticism of his signing. Sanu had a career season in 2014 with 56 catches, 790 yards, and five touchdowns. A season in which Sanu took over the No. 2 role due to injuries to wide receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Tyler Eifert.
Although it may have been a notch on the belt for Sanu, the numbers were average at best in the eyes of many as it may have seemed as if Sanu was going to benefit greatly playing alongside A.J. Green. His numbers dipped last season with 33 catches, 394 yards, and no scores.
Even after four seasons worth of experience, the jury is still out on Sanu as to what exactly his full potential is. He does bring a level of versatility that the Falcons haven’t seen in a very long time. Sanu has the ability to line up outside the numbers, in the slot, at quarterback, and a running back in the backfield as he posted two rushing touchdowns in 2015.
His catch and touchdown numbers may be middle-of-the-pack this season but the versatility adds a new wrinkle to the offense that the veteran White couldn’t. Let’s think hypothetically here for a minute.
I don’t want to place unfair expectations on the young wide out. Yet, the thought of Sanu coming in and giving the offense 60-70 catches for 1,000-plus yards, and 6-10 touchdowns would be welcomed with open arms. Not to mention having that type of threat on the field with an up-and-coming Justin Hardy in the slot will enhance the running game and create more running lanes.
The reason why he’s my No. 4 selection for the top offensive weapons is quite obvious. The team didn’t sign Sanu to his deal just to play third fiddle as he did for most of his Cincinnati career. Sanu was brought in to give the offense another notable weapon with Julio, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman. Sanu is vastly important for this upcoming season as a solid outing can elevate the offense as a whole.