Back in February – before the Atlanta Falcons officially signed Steven Jackson – I speculated what the running back would bring to Falcons passing game.
Recently, during organized team activities, head coach Mike Smith had this to say to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“He’s a big strong running back that catches the ball extremely well. He creates issues for defenses. He’s just another weapon that we have in our offensive arsenal. He’s a guy who had close to 100 catches in a season, so he’s a guy that we can use in the passing game. He’s not just a running back, he’s a receiving back as well.”
While Michael Turner was a monster for the majority of his time in Atlanta, he was woefully inept as a pass catcher. In his five seasons with the Falcons, Turner totaled 59 receptions for 457 yards and one touchdown. Over the same five-season span, Jackson caught 217 passes for 1,738 yards and two touchdowns.
Whether you want to look at Smith’s quote, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s penchant for using screen plays, or Jackson’s involvement with the passing game during his tenure with the St. Louis Rams, this much is certain: Steven Jackson will be featured heavily in the passing game with Atlanta. Pair Jackson with Jacquizz Rodgers and you’ve got a couple of running backs who should pose several problems out of the backfield for defenses, particularly when you factor in Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones, and Roddy White.