Every once in a while, those rumors that float around for weeks at a time come true. After a lot of speculation, the Atlanta Falcons have ended all the guesswork as to who would be joining Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield by agreeing to three-year contract terms with former St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson.
The odd thing about this signing are the statements that Jackson made on Sirius XM NFL Radio last week
“For where I’m at, going into Year 10, I’m not ready to step back and just become a primary backup or a reduced-role guy to be part of a running back by committee. I still have a lot left in my tank. I still have a lot left to offer to a team. We’re not talking about someone that’s in Year 12 or 13.”
No doubt that Jackson still has the legs and the ability, but whether or not the Falcons are the exact fit for what Jackson was looking for could be questioned.
Jackson will start, so there’s no issue there, but if he doesn’t want to be part of a “running back by committee” there may be a slight road bump. From what was seen of Falcons OC Dirk Koetter‘s offense last season, a running back by committee that is used to support the passing and screen game is exactly what Jackson is walking into.
Perhaps some of Atlanta’s offensive strategy had do do with Michael Turner‘s declining numbers, or problems on the offensive line. But the Falcons didn’t (and really couldn’t) run the ball effectively for the better part of the season. Everything derived from the passing game. It’s entirely possible that with Jackson, the Falcons will have new opportunities to better incorporate the running game into the offensive plan.
If they don’t, there may be some interesting sound bytes coming out of the Atlanta locker room next season.
For his career, Jackson has always been one of those runners who gets stronger and eats up bigger chunks of yardage the more times you hand him the ball, so it will be interesting to see how many carries per game Jackson gets if he starts showing he can gain the type of numbers he’s been tallying in St. Louis (only three players in NFL history have a longer streak of consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons than Jackson’s current run of eight).
In the end, anything that can take pressure off Matt Ryan and force the defense to leave more defenders in the box will be a good thing for Atlanta. Jackson may be the solution they are looking for.