In his first year with the Atlanta Falcons, things couldn’t have gone more astray for what the 10-year veteran running back had in mind when he joined after spending his entire career with the St. Louis Rams. Instead of being involved in what was considered one of the most explosive offenses the NFL had to feature, injuries and inconsistencies derailed Steven Jackson and the rest of the crew.
Even though Jackson and the Falcons had a nightmare of a season, where they went 13-3 in 2012 to 4-12 in 2013, there were enough glimpses of Jackson being an integral part of the offense that makes him worth the trouble. With the offense struggling throughout the year, especially the running game, the Falcons were a completely different team than what they were in 2012.
During the season opener, Jackson reaffirmed the reasons why the Falcons opted to bring in a 30-year-old veteran back. Against their hated rivals the New Orleans Saints, Jackson proved that he is still an explosive back with great vision, power and speed. Even though Jackson was handed the ball only a meager 11 times, he rushed for 77 yards with sevens yards per carry. He also added in five receptions for 45 yards through the air.
Since the game opener however, Jackson and the Falcons were struck with injuries that ultimately devastated their season and crushed any hopes of making it to their second ever Super Bowl trip. In only the second game of the year, Jackson left with a hamstring injury on Sept. 15 and did not return until Oct. 27.
With Jackson out for over a month, the Falcons crumbled, as they had owned the worst rushing offense in the NFL. Not only did the Falcons’ ground attack completely stall, but their season would be all but over by the time Jackson returned.
Despite the injuries and setbacks that Jackson endured, along with putting a strain on the team due to his inability to stay healthy, Jackson started to get it going by putting three strong games in where he rushed for 63, 84 and 72 yards and scored three times. Not only did Jackson help the Falcons’ ground game finally come alive, but he also continued to get stronger after each game.
At the end of the year, Jackson finished his first campaign with the team with 543 yards rushing on 157 attempts and scored six rushing touchdowns. Although these numbers are well below his average, Jackson provided Atlanta just the type of back it needs to excel during both the regular season and playoffs.
Finding a good running back that can run and catch on a regular basis is difficult, which is why Jackson is worth the trouble and why the Falcons continue to believe that the veteran back is a strong piece to their offense.
Like the rest of the team, Jackson will be anxiously waiting for the next season to begin, as he will try to redeem himself in an injury-riddled year. Jackson may not be the feared running back that we have seen during his glory days, but he is still a back that is worth being patient for and the Falcons will continue to believe that he will come back stronger.