May 29, 2013; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) takes a hand off from quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during organized team activities at the Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
In Modern professional football, the offense is almost always led by a great passer. It is the hardest position to play in all of sports. There are 32 teams in the NFL and less only a handful of them can do the job very well. With a growing population and an American embrace in the sport of football at almost every single level, the draw of talent became much deeper and now the NFL has a great talent pool to pick from talented passers. That is why it is a passing league. The reason it is a passing league is part of the reason there are so much stricter rules in the backfield: receivers can take nasty blows every once and a while, but modernly, they would get hit like that once or twice a game. The position of the quarterback has grown exponentially. Inversely, the use of a running back has also dropped. Up until the 2000’s, A team could only go as far as their running back can take them. A great passer and no running game could maybe lead their team to a winning record—maybe.
Today, a passer can be so accurate, so mobile, and so consistent, that a team without a great running back may not be doomed at all. However, do not get misled: the running back is as important as he has always has been, only implemented less. In the old days, the running back charged the defenses and carried their offense on their back. Now, Running backs gain short yards and set up the pass. Either way, an offense can only be as good as its running back. Without a guy that can run a ball down their throats, the opposing defense will play the pass every single time. They will put in a nickel defense, every receiver will be covered and even with a great quarterback, it would be very hard to put together enough completions to make a touchdown drive. It is extremely important to set up the pass. Defenses are most vulnerable after several strong running plays, they start to cheat up to stop the run and the quarterback lobs a deep pass to a wide open receiver.
Last Year, Atlanta had a very potent passing attack without a consistent running game. Michael Turner could explode every once in a while and Jacquizz Rodgers didn’t get enough snaps to really make an enormous impact (although he sure did a lot). The offseason provided a lot of hope for falcons fans with their pickup of Steven Jackson. Provided he doesn’t hit a giant age wall that hasn’t seemed to effect him while he was carrying the Rams and provided he doesn’t get injured, he should be a much more consistent and potent rusher than Michael Turner was last season.
With an added run game that will stretch the field even more, Matt Ryan should have many more opportunities to show off his arm and passing game. This year could, yet again, be a break out year for an already lethal offense.
What do you think?