Heading into last season, plenty of people thought the addition of running back Steven Jackson would be just what the doctor ordered for the Falcons offense.
Like every other positive prognostication for Atlanta’s season, that one went by the wayside before we reached the halfway point of the season. Jackson hurt his hamstring, missed four games and struggled to find much running room behind a lacking offensive line on the way to ranking last in the NFL in rushing.
Jackson turns 31 in July and coach Mike Smith was asked at a Thursday press conference if the team needs to be looking at a running back in the draft. Smith noted the obvious need for improvement in the run game, but it sounds like he that he thinks Jackson still has something left in the tank.
“Well, we were the 32nd team in the league in terms of rushing this year. It’s definitely an area that we have to improve on,” Smith said, via the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Steven Jackson, it was unfortunate that he was injured in the second game of the season. I don’t think we really got to see what Steven is capable of doing until the last three or four games. I think he scored all six of his touchdowns in those last four games. We have to improve our running game and it starts with winning the line of scrimmage. That is an area that will be an emphasis point for us.”
Jackson is set to make $3 million next season and the Falcons wouldn’t realize much cap savings by cutting him, so there’s no financial gain to moving in a different direction. Picking up a young back with potential to complement Jackson now and possibly replace him later makes sense, but fixing the line is likely a better priority given how much the 2013 unit struggled in all phases.