Last season, the falcons made a major offseason pick up of Asante Samuel. Samuel is getting older and is always chancy when he goes for the big play. Sometimes, Asante gets burnt. However it doesn’t seem like that happens quite as often as it did when he was in Philadelphia. It may be the fact that Atlanta utilizes him better or he is more motivated surrounded by championship-type players, but Asante certainly isn’t way past his prime. 5 interceptions for a 32 year-old is not bad at all. That is not the point, however.
Asante wasn’t just an add that Atlanta desperately needed. Yes, the pass defense in 2011 was suspect and Asante came with a great bargain, but I believe a bigger contributor to this pick up was the fact that Samuel came from the NFC East. In 2012, we were taking on a young, exciting Washington team, a Dallas team with a good quarterback and receivers, the defending Super Bowl Champs (who also knocked Atlanta out of the playoffs the year before) and an incredibly talented Eagles team. Aside from great coaching and game planning, a way to get a leg up on the competition may be to bring in a guy who plays those teams several times a year. Without his insight, I’m not sure the Falcons would sweep the NFC East.
After the Falcons lost in the NFC Championship to the 49ers and only barely beating the Seahawks, the falcons head into the next schedule with the NFC West on the board. Asante worked out well, Atlanta needs a running back, and Steven Jackson is on the market, what could go wrong? The fact of the matter is that Steven Jackson has played San Francisco and Seattle twice a year for his entire career. He knows that team better than anyone else on the Falcons roster, and he knows what it takes to move on two of the most powerful defenses in the NFL. Talent wise, the Falcons may split the division 2-2. With the addition, I think the Falcons win it by at least 3-1. Maybe even another one in the playoffs. Jackson is more than just a running addition, he’s an instruction manual on how to get pass these defenses. He’s just like Asante Samuel who was an instruction manual on how to slow down good offenses.