There's a familiar refrain with the Atlanta Falcons which dates all the way back to the days of Warrick Dunn. That refrain goes something like this.
We're gonna get Jerious Norwood/Jason Snelling/Antone Smith/Jacquizz Rodgers more involved in this offense. This guy gives us a different dimension to what Warrick Dunn/T.J. Duckett/Michael Turner gives us. I think he could be a real weapon for us.
That's never actually happened. Norwood was a weapon, and you could argue that limiting his carries was smart given his fragility later on in his career. Still, a guy who averaged close to six yards a carry in his first three seasons with the Falcons got less than 300 carries over that span.
The story didn't change with Rodgers in 2011. Rodgers was a less effective player than Norwood—he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry—but he was a quality receivers (21 catches for 188 yards) and it's pretty tough to judge a guy's performance based on 57 carries. That's an average of less than four totes a game.
There's been plenty of speculation about Michael Turner's future with these Falcons, which is only natural considering he's turning 30 and his performance has fallen off a cliff at the end of the last two seasons. I respect that we're going to have a debate about how much of that is due to line and play calling, because we should have that debate. But Turner, for all his awesome line-pounding and yard-rumbling magic, is not a pass-catching weapon. Rodgers and Snelling are.
I think the pattern that began with Norwood way back in 2006 will finally be broken this season. New coordinator Dirk Koetter likes screens and Mike Smith is unmistakeably high on Rodgers. If Smith truly believes Jacquizz is a potential three-down back, he and Koetter owe it to themselves to give him more than 100 carries and see if he really is. If Turner comes back—and I believe he will—the Falcons need to keep him fresh for the stretch run this season.
The Falcons need to become more versatile on offense, something everyone in the organization finally seems to recognize. That's why I believe 2012 will be Rodgers' year to make his case.
Do you agree?