Aldrick Robinson was the “next man up” to shine in the Atlanta Falcons’ latest victory. Fittingly, he is our next Falcon up for the Featured Falcon Friday.
It was Nick Williams last week. This week, Aldrick Robinson was the latest in a long list of Falcons players to step up this season.
Dealing with the absence of Julio Jones for a second straight week, Robinson made up for the lost production. The first-year Falcon hauled in a team-high, four passes for 111 yards in the 41-13 drubbing of the 49ers. The 100-yard performance was the first in 50 career games for the former SMU Mustang.
On a mission to build a more explosive offense, the Falcons’ front office added Aldrick Robinson as they re-tooled the receiving corps. Atlanta signed him to a one year, prove-it contract due to his propensity for the big play.
The Falcons have recorded 83 big plays so far this season, the fourth best in the NFL. For comparison sake, the 2015 Falcons notched 75 explosive plays all year. The Mohamed Sanu signing may have received all the notoriety, but the Aldrick-type bargain purchases have paid Atlanta the biggest dividends.
Robinson’s explosive-play ability earned him the roster spot coming out of the preseason. His big-play performances over the last two games have earned him active roster keep.
Over the last two weeks, Aldrick nearly equaled his production from the first 12 games. He entered Week 14 with 10 catches for 119 yards and exited with 17 catches for 272 yards. This is not far off from his career best 2013 season, in which he caught 18 passes for 365 yards.
Being in a position of relief is nothing new for Robinson.
The Redskins drafted Aldrick Robinson in the sixth round of the 2011 draft but stashed him on their practice squad his rookie year. When Robinson finally received the call up in 2012, he faced an uphill battle on the depth chart.
Fortunately, Pierre Garcon suffered a foot injury in the 2012 opener that gave Robinson a foot in the door. He made the most of the opportunity and contributed four catches for 52 yards and his first career touchdown in the win over New Orleans.
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Robinson went on to be a reliable deep threat for Kyle Shanahan’s offense over the next two seasons. But as such was the case with Nick Williams, Aldrick fell out of favor when a new coaching staff took over in Washington.
He latched on briefly with the Ravens, but wound up spending the majority of 2015 out of football. That didn’t stop the Atlanta Falcons organization from taking a chance on Robinson though.
Receivers coach Raheem Morris deserves some credit for the corps’ success this season. Morris had been a defensive coach his entire career, but made the head-scratching move to offense before the season.
Raheem Morris has shown to be a master motivator, a coaching quality he has used to Atlanta’s advantage in 2016. Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Nick Williams, all came to the Atlanta Falcons with huge chips on their shoulders. Morris’s ability to channel their edge has morphed the Falcons’ receiving corps into the deepest bunch in the league.
The only question that remains is who will be the next Falcons’ receiver to step up?