Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson didn’t have a great 2013 season, finishing the year with a less-than-stellar 750 combined yards and seven total TDs. So what does this mean for him in the coming season?
Jackson will be 31 in a few months with almost 3,000 career touches to date. He has a lot of tread on his tires, and he is definitely past his prime. Last year, he missed four games due to injury and underperformed in the next four after that.
But from 2005 to 2012, he never had fewer than 1,000 yards rushing, and he has never played fewer than 12 games in a season. If he can remain even relatively healthy, he has the opportunity to continue putting up solid numbers. And for the record, when he did get healthy toward the end of last year, he scored six TDs in the final six games of the season.
Depending on how good of a job the Falcons do on fixing up the offensive line this offseason, Jackson could definitely improve on his performance from last year. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was quoted saying that “we’ve got to commit to the run game a little bit more. I don’t feel like we ever really gave Steven Jackson a great chance to get going last year.” This could just be “coach speak” and doesn’t guarantee Jackson more touches, but it definitely helps that the team has the mentality to give him more chances to succeed.
Assuming that Atlanta doesn’t take a RB early in the 2014 NFL Draft, Jackson should still be the lead back with Jacquizz Rodgers behind him on the depth chart. While Rodgers will take some touches and receptions away from him, Jackson should still get plenty of work, especially in the red zone and on the goal line.
The Falcons’ offense floundered last year with both Julio Jones and Roddy White injured for much of the season. Barring no setbacks on their recoveries, both WRs should be healthy and ready to go. With two main pieces of the offense back in play, the Falcons’ offense should perform much better and get to the red zone a lot more. And when they get close to the end zone, the Falcons like to run.
So what do I expect Jackson’s stat line to look like in 2014? I could see Jackson playing 14 games and ending up with about 900 yards rushing and 8 TDs with another 200 yards receiving. Those aren’t dominant numbers, but considering that he won’t be drafted in most leagues until the seventh round or later, that upside would certainly be worth it. I would have no problem taking Jackson as my RB3.