Somebody might want to put established Falcons hater and NFL.com analyst Adam Schein under the league's concussion protocol, because he wrote something recently that was extremely positive about the Falcons, in terms of the impact the acquisition of running back Steven Jackson via free agency could have on the season. Schein called this move the single-most impactful free agency move of the offseason.
On Steven Jackson, Schein says:
Meanwhile, Jackson is the right guy at the right time for the Falcons--in every possible way. He adds leadership, power, speed, hands, balance and closing ability to a bona fide Super Bowl contender. Jackson equally helps Matt Ryan and the Falcons' defense.
Alec Shirkey did a phenomenal job of breaking down the respective value of Turner vs. Jackson last week, and if you missed that breakdown, read it now. Looking back at Atlanta's performance with Michael Turner in the key rushing role in 2012, you can see a lot of ways in which the run game was lacking. Run blocking was not stellar. Turner was not stellar. And, because of this, Atlanta's run game was easy to defend. If Michael Turner was in the backfield, teams could simply stack the box. Turner's 128 receiving yards for the 2012 season isn't an astonishingly great number, and 60 of those came off of one touchdown pass, which skews the total number. Nobody thinks of Michael Turner as a receiving threat.
Steven Jackson, on the other hand, brings a lot of versatility to Atlanta's offense. He's a legitimate receiving threat, and he can keep the offense on the field with sustained drives, keeping the defense fresh and maintaing leads. In Jackson's words:
If I have that ability to make an impact on a game, and my tough running, hard-nosed, downhill running, we will definitely be able to close out games after establishing leads.
Sounds like something that was missing from Atlanta's offense last season, doesn't it?
It's probably an exaggeration to say that any team is ever one player away from a Super Bowl win. But, we know how close the Falcons came last season, and the addition of Steven Jackson does resolve some of the key weaknesses that kept them from getting there.
Adam Schein referred to the Atlanta Braves' ace closer, Craig Kimbrel, and stated that Steven Jackson may become the best closer in Atlanta--even better than Killa Craig. Based on what Jackson brings to the table in talent and versatility, Schein may be right. I certainly hope so.