With the NFL trade deadline approaching tomorrow, there are whispers of places where players could land. Two of the biggest names listed on the trading block are Rams RB Steven Jackson and Panthers RB DeAngelo Willliams. They are in the middle of rumors because they have large contracts, and while they are still productive, their respective struggling teams could get some value out of them.
I read one interesting piece that linked the Atlanta Falcons with these two running backs. The Falcons have Michael Turner, whose bruising style hasn’t been very productive this season, and offers little as a receiver. They also have Jacquizz Rodgers, a back who doesn’t plow over defenders, but can do some running, and is an outstanding pass protector as well as receiver. The only problem that the Falcons have is they become fairly predictable when each back is on the field. When Turner is on the field, you must account for him running, but you don’t really need to put any really good defender on him in the passing game. Rodgers is less predictable, but he isn’t quite as strong running the football between the tackles.
The Falcons are missing that really complete back that the can put in singleback formations, and both run and throw with equal effectiveness. Rodgers is much more complete, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a back like Williams or Jackson in your lineup?
The answer is you can have a player like that without even trading for him. The Falcons have a tremendous, yet underutilized weapon in running back Jason Snelling. He is very good between the tackles. He has solid speed to the outside. He is a very good size. He has very soft hands, and does well breaking the tackles of defensive backs. Nearly every time his number has been called in this Falcons offense, he has answered the call in an outstanding manner.
As a matter of fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here. Remember how Michael Turner was Ladanian Tomlinson’s backup in San Diego, the Falcons signed him as a free-agent, and rode him all the way to a winning record four years in a row? Well, Jason Snelling could be that player for the Falcons. Yes, he’s a couple years older than Turner was at the time. But he’s a great runner, doesn’t have many touches, and as an added plus he catches the ball well out of the backfield. The Falcons need to use Snelling more. He is a valuable weapon, and can really help this running game, without forcing the Falcons to sacrifice draft picks or finances in the future.