We return to pressing football questions with Marshall Faulk and SB Nation, and this week we're talking players under pressure. You may put on your headphones and crank Queen and David Bowie, if it helps set the mood.
Wow. Many surprises in Wk 1. @SBNation: on your team, who is now facing the pressure to perform? ... http://t.co/fez0V7D33a— Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) September 10, 2014
Wow, indeed. When I think pressure to perform, three veteran players spring immediately to mind. Let's run through those choices and then turn it over to you guys and girls for discussion.
#1: Steven Jackson
If it seems like we spend a lot of time on Steven Jackson, it's for good reason: He's the only traditional big, bruising running back currently on the roster, and the most likely goal line option for the Falcons this season. For the moment, he's also the longest neck in the Falcons' four-headed hydra of a running back committee.
That could change. Jackson was effective enough in Week 1 against the Saints, but with Devonta Freeman, Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith showing well, he'll need to run effectively and show he's got plenty in the tank to ensure he gets plenty of touches. Any slippage could lead to Rodgers or Freeman chewing into his carry load.
#2: Kroy Biermann
Biermann has become the one Falcon fans love to hate, filling the role vacated by such luminaries as Ray Edwards, Chris Owens and Akeem Dent. Not a fun role.
While Biermann had a couple of nice run stops on Sunday, there's little question he needs to play well to avoid ceding snaps to Osi Umenyiora and the young, promising Stansly Maponga. He's not offering much as a pass rusher thus far and seems like he can't change direction in space the way he used to, which is a concern. Let's see how he fares against the Bengals, but there's no question the Falcons have options if he's not able to play at a high level.
#3: Tyson Jackson
After a quiet preseason and first game, there's a little pressure on Jackson to perform. He should have a significant role on first and second downs, but players like Malliciah Goodman, Corey Peters and Ra'Shede Hageman all need snaps, and Jackson's the most likely candidate to cede them if he struggles early.
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