Jacquizz Rodgers Can Still Be the Atlanta Falcons Go-To Back

By Michael Collins
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

I admit it…I’m a football junkie. During football season I’m basically genetically attached to my remote control, and I may as well be strapped into a chair with lid-locks, looking like something out of “A Clockwork Orange”.  From early Saturday morning until late Sunday night my world revolves around pigskin, (ok..and chicken wings).

One of my favorite parts of my weekly football marathon is watching Pac-12 and other west coast college games late on Saturday nights. It was during this time of ritual football watching that I was introduced to Jacquizz Rodgers. I found myself looking forward to the Oregon State football games, just so I could watch Rodgers play.

Fast forward to the Atlanta Falcons 2011 draft. I heard the words “…the Atlanta Falcons select running back Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State University.”

I was beside myself in happiness. I just knew Rodgers was going to fit in and provide an extra boost in the backfield for the Falcons. After two seasons, it would appear that Rodgers is still searching for his place on the team, and there have been all sorts of excuses made as to why he hasn’t been more productive.

He’s too small.

He’s too versatile. (is that possible?)

He’s not feature back material.

He’s not a good fit for this offensive style.

Anything and everything has been thrown out there to explain away why Rodgers hasn’t taken the reigns away from Michael Turner and left him standing in a cloud of dust. A combination of any of those reasons could be correct, but then again, it might be something that more people haven’t touched on.

Rodgers needs to get the ball…and get the ball a lot to be effective.

I watched Rodgers play week after week during his days as a Beaver. I saw him flat run over guys that were twice his size (something that we saw a flash of in the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks). I saw him burn past some of the best linebackers and DBs in college football. He’s one of those running backs that gets stronger and more determined the more times he’s given the rock.

The problem is that Falcons OC Dirk Koetter‘s offense isn’t centered around a running attack that sets up the pass. In fact, it could be argued that it’s the exact opposite. But that shouldn’t matter. You can get Rodgers the ball on screen passes, toss sweep plays, passes into the flat, and even swing passes. Just get him involved regularly so he can pound that rock.

With tight end Tony Gonzalez likely retiring, quarterback Matt Ryan is going to need a new target. Why not let Rodgers at least take a big share of those touches and targets that Gonzalez used to get? I’m not saying that Rodgers has the vertical leap that Gonzalez has, but he can certainly catch some of those back shoulder throws along the sideline.

Given the current offensive scheme, the Falcons may not have another 1,000-yard rusher for a long time. The object isn’t to find a guy who can just take the ball in his gut and run with it, but rather to find that multi-purpose player that will rack up a ton of all-purpose yards.

It’s clear that Michael Turner’s days in Atlanta are numbered (if not over), and Jacquizz Rodgers can still be that go-to guy for the Falcons if they just use him properly.


Michael Collins is a Rant Sports NFL Network Manager, and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter and here on Facebook

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