Coming into the 2013 season, it looked like the Atlanta Falcons were going to be flying as high as ever on offense. Tony Gonzalez decided to return for another year, Julio Jones figured to keep improving and the team also signed proven running back Steven Jackson. The veteran RB was brought in to solidify the Falcons’ ground game and to give the team a reliable short yardage and goal line back. The only problem? Jackson turned 30 this offseason.
While it’s unfair to lump all RBs into the ‘over the hill’ category after they turn 30, there’s no denying the drop in production that most experience. Jackson was supposed to be the exception to the rule, but so far it looks like he’s living up to the stereotype. The latest reports out of Falcons’ camp indicate that the veteran RB could miss two to four weeks with a thigh injury.
Jackson was supposed to be an exception because he’s been healthy his entire career. Coming into 2013 (minus his rookie season), he’d never missed more than five starts in a season. This thigh injury appears to be on the minor side, but now the Falcons have to go to plan-B, which is exactly what they didn’t want to do.
So far this season, Atlanta has relied heavily on the passing game. You can’t blame them, considering the plethora of offensive weapons on their roster, but one-dimensional teams have a hard time going all the way. The Falcons will now turn to Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling to fill the void left by Jackson and the team will certainly need them to step up in a big way. The problem is that Rodgers is under-sized and not a typical feature back, while Snelling is a career-long backup.
Given the circumstances, I expect the Falcons to become even more one-dimensional than they’ve been in the first two weeks. Thus far, they’ve thrown for 636 yards and rushed for only 124.