Rather than ask the age-old question about whether Peria Jerry will be effective this year--the mothership's latest story suggests he will be, I have serious reservations--I wanted to talk about what that would actually mean for this football team.
When the Falcons made Peria Jerry their first-round pick in 2009, they saw him as the player they needed at a position they needed. Sans Rod Coleman, the Falcons had no one with any penetration skills to put next to the talented Jonathan Babineaux. Jerry was seen as a guy who had the bulk and power to force his way into the backfield, and the speed and agility to close on the quarterback. The Falcons needed that badly.
Had Jerry not gotten hurt, he might have been that player. Instead, he showed a few tantalizing flashes of his talent before losing his rookie season. If the Falcons are right, his struggles since then have been thanks to his extremely slow recovery from that injury, an injury they believe sapped his speed and power.
What if he is healthy and ready to make a difference in 2012, though?
If he truly is--and again, I have my doubts given what has transpired up until this point--it could transform the defense. Corey Peters is a mighty useful player and Babineaux remains effective, but a healthy Jerry could offer an interior pass rush ability currently missing from this roster.
Given the new emphasis on that, Jerry's ability to command attention in the middle would create opportunities outside. If he still has most of the chops he showed before his injury and he's over the worst of it--again, we're dealing with ifs--he could easily push for four to six sacks. It would, in short, make the Falcons line much more effective than it has been in the last few years, and it might just make it one of the league's most electric units.
This is not an exaggeration, I believe. I also remain skeptical, so I wouldn't even say I'm cautiously optimistic just yet. Let's just say that if it did happen, the Falcons would be a team absolutely nobody would be interested in playing.
What are your feelings on Jerry's 2012?