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The Chris Owens Question: Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

With a day to dull the pain, I want to talk about Chris Owens. Don't worry, I'm wearing a bulletproof vest at my keyboard.

After Owens committed a pair of egregious pass interference penalties and generally looked overmatched versus the Packers, there was an immediate hue and cry for the Falcons to cut him. It was an understandable reaction, one sparked by the image of Owens mugging a Packers receiver in the end zone, an image that is burned into my retinas.

I'm going to advocate for Owens in this post. I'm doing so understanding that his 2010 play hasn't warranted it, and that I don't have the flotilla of statistics to back it up. But I am convinced that Owens will, at the very least, be a decent nickel back in the NFL someday, and he's still young.

I look back to the 2009 Bills game, when Owens blanketed Terrell Owens and made a pick, as an example of what he's capable of, inferior competition notwithstanding. I see the Packers game as more or less the worst he can do. Somewhere in between is the Owens Falcons fans will see on a regular basis, and that's an average to above average option.

Let's face it: Decent cornerbacks don't grow on trees. Owens is certainly better than Chevis Jackson, the lead-footed corner who the Falcons cut ties with in the off-season. There's no guarantee that Brian Williams will return this upcoming season. I think the Falcons need to continue to bolster the depth chart, but you can't eternally pick up mid-round cornerbacks and wait for them to develop. Better to work hard to make Owens into the cornerback they want him to be than to cut ties and start over with a rookie. Unless Dominique Franks explodes into glory in 2011, the Falcons will need their 2009 third rounder.

Thankfully, the Falcons haven't put me in charge of any decisions of that magnitude, so Owens' fate is in better hands. Debate.