Unlike other major American sports -- baseball, basketball, hockey, beerpong, etc. -- football is a game that requires players who go relatively unnoticed by the untrained eye. One such position (at least in this day and age) is the fullback.
After last season ended for the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, former FB Ovie Mughelli spoke out in support of Michael Turner, who had by far his worst season in Atlanta (can't find the link, but I promise this happened). Mughelli stated that inadequate play from the Falcons' fullbacks made it extremely difficult for the RBs to succeed, and it's hard to disagree with that sentiment.
While Turner had certainly lost a step or two with all the reps he's taken since 2008, he wasn't getting the same kind of holes he had grown used to when Mughelli lined up in front of him. Those two factors together made matters incredibly difficult for the franchise's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, and ultimately led to his release.
Right now the Falcons have Bradie Ewing and Patrick DiMarco recently came on board, and it's hard to imagine either will play at the level Mughelli did during his tenure here. Former fullback Mike Cox tried out for the Giants a few weeks ago, so it looks like his time with Atlanta may be up.
Ewing is more of a wild card. The former Wisconsin Badger was lost for the season in training camp last August with a leg injury, and has yet to play a regular season snap at the NFL level. Drafted in the fifth round in 2012, he was brought to Atlanta with the hope of becoming the fullback of the future, but with such little experience, it's difficult to tell if he'll be ready for a big role this year.
While Stephen Jackson will bring more to the table than Turner did in 2012, having a guy in front who can give him that extra push would be incredibly useful -- especially given Jackson's age. SJ39 figures to take a lot of reps this year, and the Falcons don't want him to burn out before his three-year contract expires.
So what should the Falcons do? Vonta Leach was just released by the Ravens, so that could be an option, but I don't see him being in the team's price range.
Honestly, I would try and swing a deal for a veteran fullback. I do believe that Ewing could be the answer in the long run, but as we know, this team is ready to win now. Is Ewing ready to be an NFL starter at the moment? Hard to tell, but my guess is the answer is no.
It's not like a trade of this nature would require a hefty return, and giving Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers adequate help from the FB position would be worth a small sacrifice in the form of future draft picks and/or depth players.
Given the investments this team has made in the running back position, and given how close these guys are to bringing home the Lombardi Trophy, getting that extra piece in place is absolutely worth exploring.
What say you, Falcons fans?