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Why Steven Jackson will be successful in Atlanta

Steven Jackson has expressed his belief that the Atlanta Falcons are "one running back away from the Super Bowl." Can he be that running back?

Steven Jackson has expressed his belief that the Atlanta Falcons are “one running back away from the Super Bowl.” Can he be that running back?

Although the arrival of running back Steven Jackson in Atlanta was met with great enthusiasm by fans, there still seems to be some skepticism about what he will be able to accomplish with the Falcons. Some people seem to think his best years are behind him.

Their concerns are understandable. Like it or not, Steven Jackson is 30, the age at which the skills and abilities of most NFL running backs seem to decline rapidly. Very few rushers over the age of 30 have rushed for 1,000 or more yards in a season.

Still, it’s not unheard of. Several rushers have managed the feat in the past 10 years: Fred Taylor (2006, 2007); Warrick Dunn (2005, 2006); Thomas Jones (2008, 2009); Curtis Martin (2003, 2004); and Tiki Barber (2005, 2006). At the age of 30, Barber scored nine touchdowns, while a 31-year-old Martin crossed the goal line an amazing 12 times. Taylor averaged a stellar 5.4 yards per carry (ypc) at 31 years of age.

It’s also worth noting that between 2005 and 2006, Barber added an additional 995 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

If there’s anyone who should be able to duplicate these achievements it’s Steven Jackson. He is consistently good. He has gained at least 1,000 rushing yards in each of the past eight consecutive seasons. In seven of those seasons, he has also surpassed 300 receiving yards, accumulating 806 yards on 90 receptions in 2006.

Jackson needs only 3,967 yards to overtake Curtis Martin for fourth place on the all-time career rushing yardage list. He isn’t just another NFL running back.

Stubbornly skeptical

And yet the skepticism persists.

Critics point out that he “only” gained 1,042 yards (4.1 ypc) and scored four touchdowns last year. Clearly, they say, he is too old and won’t accomplish anything in Atlanta. At least Turner scored touchdowns (10 in 2012)!

Who do they think they’re kidding? Anyone who watched the Falcons last year could see that their rushing woes were primarily Michael Turner’s own fault.

It’s easy to explain why Turner has scored more touchdowns of late than Jackson has — and it’s not because Turner is a bigger back or because Jackson faces eight men in the box more often than Turner does.

The real reason is that in the past two years, Turner has been handed the ball 36 times inside the three-yard line. Yes, you read that correctly: thirty-six. Not surprisingly, he has scored 14 touchdowns on those attempts for a 38-percent success rate.

By contrast, Jackson has been the focal point of the Rams’ offense, yet he’s only rushed the ball 10 times from three yards out or less. Even so, he scored four touchdowns for a success rate of 40 percent.

It’s not surprising, then, that with over three times as many goal-line attempts, Turner has over three times as many scores. Had the Rams fed Jackson the ball in short yardage as often as the Falcons gave it to Turner, Jackson would probably have about as many touchdowns.

Need I remind you that the Falcons ranked third in red-zone trips last year? Jackson will get his chances.

Incidentally, Football Outsiders ranks Steven Jackson as about the 10th-best running back in the league. Michael Turner ranks a mere 39th.

Dual threat

The NFCS better get ready for Sjax...you'll see him twice a year now

The NFC South had better get ready for Steven Jackson; they’ll be facing him twice a year now.

And we haven’t even mentioned the passing game yet.

Since 2008, when Turner arrived in Atlanta, he has caught a grand total of 59 passes in 75 games. His best seasons as a receiving target were 2011 (17 receptions) and 2012 (19 catches) after Atlanta began incorporating the screen into the game plan. It wasn’t until 2012 that Turner caught the first touchdown reception of his career.

Now in that same period, Jackson has caught a stellar 217 passes in 74 games — four times as many receptions in one fewer game than Turner. Over his career, he has amassed 407 receptions, 3,324 yards, and eight touchdowns.

Why is this so important? Because it means that Jackson — unlike Turner — will be able to stay on the field on third down. Suddenly Atlanta’s playcalling won’t be nearly so predictable anymore.

Bracing for success

In coming to Atlanta, Jackson goes from playing on a St. Louis team in which he was the only credible offensive threat to being just one weapon in an arsenal that includes wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White, not to mention tight end Tony Gonzalez. No longer will defenses be able to key off on him. If they try, Atlanta will exploit the one-on-one match-ups and make them pay.

Jackson’s motivation and work ethic since arriving in Atlanta have been inspiring. He has been working with quarterback Matt Ryan since April to master the terminology of the no-huddle offense.

He has embarked on a gluten-free diet to help keep his body intact and promote longevity.

He has reported for work at an impressive 245 pounds, although he wants to get down to 240 pounds or less. Linebacker Brian Banks (whose own story is remarkable) was quoted as saying that “Steven Jackson is the same size as me. It makes no sense how big he is.”

So what kind of impact do I really think Steven Jackson is going to make in 2013?

I am going to make a bold prediction: Jackson will get 1,450 total yards and 14 touchdowns. That might sound crazy now, but it will look brilliant in six months.

If you aren’t excited already, Falcons fans, get excited. You have every reason to be.

890 comments
Gobbles
Gobbles

so back to my idea when i came in today.  you guys need a link to be posted on the current article that people are commenting on that brings you to the next article posted.  you have links to articles for a week ago on this article.  

mountaineer4life
mountaineer4life

GREETINGS WATERCOOLER BLOGGERS ..... howdy BUILDINGWITHCLAY .....

Gobbles
Gobbles

i hate watching baseball but im good with the hr derby  

bpanhandle
bpanhandle

Somehow this article is the second one down in our fancy widget.  Its confusing.

Building With the Alabama Hammer
Building With the Alabama Hammer

The Packers quietly have a super stacked young secondary.

Burnett and McMillan are our safeties, Shields was CB#2 and Hayward started in the slot. And I mean started too because GB ran the nickle or dime package more than any other team in the league. House played through an injury and only played 318 snaps in weeks 7 thru 16 but played well despite his shoulder injury and limited action

Player - Age - PFF grade

Burnett - 24 - +7.4

Hayward - 23 - +21.2

Shields - 25 - +16.1

House - 24 - +3.2

McMillan - 24 - +1.2

NonStattHumper
NonStattHumper

Jim Schwartz the head coach of the Detroit Lions had put together the perfect team. The only thing that was missing was a good quarterback. He had scouted all the colleges and even the Canadian and European Leagues, but he couldn't find a ringer who could ensure a Super Bowl win.

Then one night while watching CNN he saw a war-zone scene in Afghanistan. In one corner of the background, he spotted a young Afghan Muslim soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand-grenade straight into a 15th story window 100 yards away.

KABOOM!

He threw another hand-grenade 75 yards away, right into a chimney.

KA-BLOOEY!

Then he threw another at a passing car going 90 mph.

BULLS-EYE!

"I've got to get this guy!" Coach said to himself.
"He has the perfect arm!"

So, he brings him to the States and teaches him the great game of football. And the Lions go on to win the Super Bowl.

The young Afghan is hailed as the great hero of football, and when the coach asks him what he wants, all the young man wants is to call his mother.

"Mom," he says into the phone, "I just won the Super Bowl!"

"I don't want to talk to you, the old Muslim woman says, "You are not my son!"

"I don't think you understand, Mother," the young man pleads. "I've won the greatest sporting event in the world. I'm here among thousands of my adoring fans."

"No! Let me tell you!" his mother retorts. "At this very moment, there are gunshots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers were beaten within an inch of their lives last week, and I have to keep your sister in the house so she doesn't get raped!" The old lady pauses, and then tearfully says,

"I will never forgive you for making us move to Detroit !!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Falcon
Teenage Mutant Ninja Falcon

The reason Jackson will excel is that he's no longer the hunted. In St. Louis, defenses gameplanned to stop him. Let's be honest here, no one felt threatened by Sam Bradford and his lack of weapons. Stack the box in Atlanta, PLEASE...I dare you. 

robertj72
robertj72

@mountaineer4life Mount there is a NFCS draft in 30 minutes are you in that league? I am.

G & G
G & G moderator

Prep ghost did it

Gobbles
Gobbles

@natesweet @Jive Turkey Gobbler what i want is like what espn has.  <--- last article ................. next article ---->  and when i refresh the page because someone says new post i want to be able to click next article and get there  

Gobbles
Gobbles

@natesweet @Jive Turkey Gobbler when there is a new article i will look for the link you are talking about but this far i have not seen a link in any article after i have refreshed. 

Gobbles
Gobbles

@natesweet @Jive Turkey Gobbler everytime someone says new post i go all the way out to your main page to find it.  i just want to refresh and click a link from this article.