For most of his career, Steven Jackson has made his living by accepting hand-offs from his quarterbacks and doing what he does best: run the football. The Atlanta Falcons will be making sure to allow the veteran Jackson to use his skills in helping their rushing attack become more than just banging into linemen and falling backwards.
But in 2013, Jackson will also be doing something he hasn’t done since his younger days, which is catching passes out of the backfield on third downs and being in position against linebackers for one-on-one plays on passing downs. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, right?
Everybody, including many Falcons fans, have been skeptical about how much gas Jackson has left in his tank at the age of 30-years old, which is kryptonite for many running backs in the NFL. The Falcons, including future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, believes that Jackson has plenty of ammunition left to be an impact player, and that he will help them become even tougher to defend in 2013.
During practices, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has been lining up his new toy all over line, and has made it a priority in making Jackson a focal point in his high-octane passing attack.
In 2012, the Falcons wasted away long drives time after time because they weren’t able to to get first downs in short yardage situations. At 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, the Falcons expect Jackson to help them improve in this area emphatically. The inability to rush the football became the Achilles’ heel for the Falcons, and it was exposed greatly in the 2012 NFC Championship game.
With Jackson on board, Gonzalez is envisioning a “perfect” offense where the Falcons will be able to attack their opponents with their version of F-16s, or pummel them with an earthquake ground attack that will have defenses scattered.
Time will tell whether Jackson will be able to embrace his new role in the passing attack, but one thing is for sure: he will be all over the line and it will be up to opposing defenses to react.