Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan would have to get really creative if the Falcons were to lose Osi Umenyiora for the season. (Steve Mitchell)
ESPN’s NFC South Blog recently published an article highlighting the can’t-lose players for the teams in the division. As expected, quarterbacks are excluded from the discussion.
According to the author, Matt Williamson, the Atlanta Falcons’ can’t-lose player is Steven Jackson.
I can definitely see the reasoning for selecting Steven Jackson; the Falcons’ struggles to run the ball last season are well-documented. Michael Turner’s decline was sharp and sudden. As Williamson points out, Jackson is an upgrade over Turner in every regard; he still has tread left, and he’s perfectly capable of catching the ball – something Turner couldn’t do. The addition of Jackson provides the Atlanta offense with another dimension, and makes the passing game much deadlier.
However, with that said, the Falcons still boasted one of the league’s best offenses thanks to their dynamic passing attack.
Jackson is a solid choice, and while I understand the selection, it’s not a choice I particularly agree with. Instead, I have to look to the other side of the ball and select Osi Umenyiora.
Last season, the Falcons had 29 sacks as a team – that total was good for 28th in the league. With John Abraham gone, the Falcons are looking to Umenyiora to fill his shoes.
If Umenyiora were to get injured, the Falcons would have no semblance of a pass rush unless Kroy Biermann, Cliff Matthews, Jonathan Massaquoi, and rookies Malliciah Goodman and Stansly Maponga can all step up in a huge way.