This is not breaking news, but the Falcons signing of Steven Jackson will be one of the best moves by any team this offseason. The full impact of his acquisition won’t be felt until later in the year. The Falcons are favorites to win the NFC South this season and rightfully so, they won it in 2012 and it can be argued they have only gotten better. I don’t hide my allegiances (just look at my pen name), but this Falcons team worries me. Already equipped with a fantastic passing attack, add Jackson to the mix, and they have significantly improved their running attack while having another receiving option for Matt Ryan.
Steven Jackson is a well-recognized name. For nine seasons he toted the rock for the Rams and he did so effectively. In those nine seasons with St. Louis, Jackson rushed for more than ten thousand yards. This while averaging better than four yards per attempt. Perhaps more impressive is in that same time span, Jackson managed to bring in over four hundred receptions for greater than three thousand three hundred yards. That is better than eight yards per reception. Wow! That’s right, over eight yards every time he catches the ball. What an incredible addition for Matt Ryan. This is a case of the Falcons having an embarrassment of riches.
There are those who may think Jackson has been run ragged while with the Rams. Quite the contrary, while with St. Louis, he averaged a very pedestrian two hundred sixty-six rushes per season. In this era of 300 or even up to 350 rushing attempts annually by some of the more work horse backs (such as former Falcon Michael Turner) Steven Jackson has relatively low mileage. Earlier in this post I mentioned Jackson’s impact for Atlanta won’t really be felt until later in the season. Here’s what I mean.
Jackson is 6’2” and 240 pounds. He is a big man, hard to tackle and possesses very good speed. Toward the end of the season, defenses are tired, sometimes even injured and frankly just are not as fresh as in September or October. This is when the Falcons could make full use of #39. He could batter opposing defenses and literally break their will. Not only in the run game, where the Falcons staff should pound the ball, but also in the passing game, by swinging him out and allowing him to get the ball and build up a head of steam to blast through oncoming tacklers. This is what scares me. Steven Jackson has plenty left in the tank and I know Atlanta will make full use of all he has left. Jackson could be the piece missing from last years team. And he may be enough to get them back into the big game.
The Falcons are in a prime position to make a deep playoff run. That’s not to say the rest of the NFC South is without talent, but Atlanta has a loaded offense. There are some big questions on the defensive side of the ball for the Falcons, but there is no doubt they will be able to put up lots of points. This will be especially true at that indoor race track known as the Georgia Dome. All NFL defensive coordinators will need to stock up on their aspirin and Tylenol, because this season, the Falcons are going to give them all kinds of headaches.
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