If you haven’t already seen him, it’s strange. No longer donning the blue and gold, Steven Jackson now rocks the blood-red and black stitching for the “dirty bird” Atlanta Falcons.
He’s aware of his age, but could care less about the historical statistics of running backs over age 30. Jackson’s focus is the same it has been since he started playing football: just win baby.
Come Sunday, personal relationships (he still keeps frequent contact with A LOT of former teammates) become enemies — and that’s just part of the business known as the NFL.
Both parties handled the departure with class. Nobody has ill will, no bitterness, just a mutual respect. Additional motivation or not, who cares, this is the National Football League. Every game is huge.
The Falcons finished 2012 a game shy of the Super Bowl, losing to San Francisco 28-24 in the NFC Championship. Adding Jackson was supposed to add another premier part to winning the Lombardi.
But there are no guarantees, and in Week 1, reality hit when New Orleans fought off an early 10-0 deficit to defeat Atlanta 23-17.
Jackson was productive; rushing 11 times for 77 yards and catching five passes for 45 yards. But box scores don’t always tell the true story. Jackson dropped a potential go-ahead TD pass with under a minute to play on 3rd down. Roman Harper intercepted quarterback Matt Ryan on 4th down and the game was over.
So forget the Jackson/Rams story, the Falcons are hungry for a victory.
Daryl Richardson did not practice (foot), but Jeff Fisher indicated he would be fine.
Atlanta had three defensive starters limited (Thomas DeCoud, Asante Samuel, Sean Weatherspoon) and both star wideouts (Roddy White, Julio Jones) did not practice.
- ATL is 20-3 under Mike Smith in games following a loss, including 12-straight.
- STL is 47-26-2 all time against ATL
- STL has not started 2-0 since 2001.
Rams GM Les Snead worked in the Falcons personnel department from 1998-2011, and when you compare both current rosters, one thing is certain: both offenses present a ton of speed.
Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Harry Douglas are burners with great hands. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is a shoe-in Hall of Famer and will challenge the rookie Alec Ogletree.
But opponents are quickly finding that the Rams have serious depth at skill positions too. Jared Cook exploded against Arizona, and the Falcons will likely try to limit his damage. But…Sam Bradford says watch out:
Football is a game of matchups, and the Rams like theirs.
Robert Quinn was honored with the Defensive Player of the Week, and the fun may keep coming.
Atlanta’s offensive line is young, and banged up. Left tackle Sam Baker did not practice with a knee injury, and is one of just two holdovers from last year’s unit. New Orleans attacked second-year man Lamar Holmes, who gave up eight pressures including a sack.
On 42 drop-backs, Ryan saw pressure 20 times and his performance suffered: 8-of-17 with an interception and three sacks.
The NFL’s leading sack-getters a season ago could be ripe for another big game.
HOW BREES DID IT
Drew Brees threw for 357 yards and his top receiver was running back Darren Sproles. Sproles caught all six passes his way for 88 yards.
Bradford could utilize Richardson out of the backfield in similar fashion.
Atlanta is a ridiculous 33-7 at home under Mike Smith in the regular season. However, St. Louis finished 3-1-1 on the road last season.
The Falcon’s experience could prove too much for the NFL’s youngest team, but between their offensive line struggles and the Rams’ stellar pass rush — this game will be close.
SOUND OF THE DAY
Steven Jackson: strange seeing himself in Red
Jackson: Still talks with D Rich Often