Rumors that Steven Jackson is going to opt out of St. Louis has sparked some talk of what team he will join and there were some mention of the Falcons in at least the top ten teams of that scenario.
Along with the expectation that Michael Turner will be let go, the thought of Jackson for Turner is one to at least take a look at as we all await March 12 and the start of free agency. Although he is thirty soon, he was still a thousand yard rusher for a below .500 team. What I like about this possibility is the fact that Jackson was a premier weapon for a average team in the NFC West, a division known for good defensive minded teams. Good defenses keying on him and he still had a good year signals he still has some gas and maybe just what the Falcons need. In two games against San Francisco the Rams came out with a tie and a win, both going into overtime. Jackson had 29 carries for 101 yards at San Francisco along with 2 receptions for 26 yards to come out with 127 total yards. When San Francisco went into St. Louis they no doubt planned on containing Jackson better, and they held him to 49 yards in 21 carries. But in that game, Jackson had 5 receptions for 69 yards in moving the chains toward a win, and 118 total yards. In the NFC Championship against San Francisco, the Birds Turner, Rodgers and Snelling combined for a total of 79 all purpose yards. Comparing the receiving abilities shows Jackson has over 3,000 yards in his career hauling in passes to the 528 yards by Turner. Steven Jackson is still a dangerous weapon and would be an upgrade compliment to Jaquizz, and since the Atlanta Falcons play the NFC West in 2013, how nice would it be to have Ryan and the air attack along with the offensive line going against defenses that in the back of their heads know all too well about that 6’ 2”, 240 pound nightmare they have been dealing with for the last seven plus seasons ? The longer Tony G. contemplates his and his alone decision of another year or the end to a great career the more hope he sheds on the Atlanta Falcon nation. I have also seen some predictions that even upon his return the Falcons will select a Tight End in the draft so he can groom the pick. I’m all for taking a tight end whether Tony opts in or out of the nest, but not in the first two rounds. A free agent signing and the first two draft picks have to go to the trenches, offensive and defensive lines. It is on these lines that the game is won, and the two lines are indeed needs for the Falcons. Pressure on the opposing quarterback while plugging running lanes on defense, and protection time for Ryan and opening holes in the running game on offense all are the keys to Football success and it is all accomplished in the trenches. The door to the Super Bowl that Atlanta is knocking on must open with these priorities attended to. All else on this solid team will get better with this upgrade. The tight end situation can be helped in the third or fourth round, for there are some good tight ends in the draft. Gavin Escobar of San Diego St. is a 6’6” 255 pound early entry who has averaged 6.5 touchdowns the last two years. Travis Keice of Cincinnati is a well rounded tight end at 6’6” and 260 pounds who caught 8 touchdowns in 2012. Ryan Otten out of San Jose St. at 6’5” and 245 pounds caught 47 passes for 742 yards last season and reports of a solid Senior Bowl showing were on target. All these possible picks were very close to Stanford’s Ertz in nearly every stat, who is the only tight end ranked on ESPN’s scouts top 32. The investment of a third or fourth round pick would be a good value and fill the position need if not this year then next. I still think Mike Palmer is a decent back up player, and the slot receiver can take up targets if Tony calls it quits, so the desperate need should still go for linemen. So in summary, as a true Atlanta fan, – Tony come back one more year please, shore up the lines on both sides of the ball, have Jackson sign a discount contract at a shot at the Bowl and change the Braves retirement of Chipper Jones number 10 to September 2 when the New York Mets are in Labor day weekend. Sweet Dreams be made.