Atlanta Falcons 2013 Breakout Candidate: Jacquizz Rodgers

By Ben Sullivan
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers has been on the verge of breaking out in the NFL for a couple of years now. A fifth-round pick out of Oregon State in 2011, Rodgers has shown glimpses of his potential during his first two years in the league.

That potential has the Falcons ready to give him a greater share of the offense in 2013. Rodgers spent his first two years in Atlanta as Michael Turner’s understudy, but when the team let the veteran go, they didn’t draft another young back to take his place; rather, they just signed another aging feature back.

If the team didn’t believe that Rodgers has what it takes to be their no. 1 back, they would have done more than just bringing in Steven Jackson. Jackson, a former impact ball carrier for the St. Louis Rams, has seen his best days in the NFL. He may have something left in the tank, but it’s a short-term solution at best for the Falcons.

That leaves the door wide open for Rodgers to solidify himself as the top back in Atlanta, and he has what it takes to kick that door down.

A smaller back, his size would have excluded him from being considered a no. 1 back in past years, but not anymore. More and more teams are finding value in smaller backs who excel in spread offenses, like Rodgers did when he played at Oregon State.

The Falcons have built their offense around the passing game with quarterback Matt Ryan and receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Jackson is a big back who does his best work in offenses with multiple tight ends and blocking backs. Rodgers, on the other hand, finds his yards in the open spaces that the Falcons’ offense creates.

Those open spaces will be plentiful for Rodgers in 2013, and he is ready to run through them on his way to a breakout season.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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