Atlanta Falcons veteran running back Steven Jackson had just 156 carries for 542 yards last season in his first year with the team, as he was severely hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury. Soft-tissue injuries are brutal ones for veteran RBs, and S-Jax’s numbers are a testament to that; he averaged a meager 3.5 yards per carry. He’s determined to get back on track next season, and he should be able to eclipse 1,000 yards if he’s healthy and doesn’t lose too many carries to rookie Devonta Freeman, who has been impressive in offseason workouts thus far.
Jackson is focused on helping the Falcons running game become one of the best ten rushing units in the NFL, and he believes it’s a big key to victory. He wrote on his official site (hat tip to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter for the story), “We fell short in a lot of things last year, but I was definitely most disappointed with how consistently low we ranked in the rushing game. The first thing on my to-do list is to make sure that we rank in the top 10 in rushing, and every statistical category when it comes to the rushing game.”
Matt Ryan had a great season in 2013 considering how awful the line in front of him was and the lack of an adequate running game. With a healthy Jackson, impact rookie Freeman, change-of-pace guy Jacquizz Rodgers, and upgrades on the offensive line (hello, Jake Matthews), the Falcons rushing attack will be much better next season. But will they be a top ten unit? If Jackson’s goal is fulfilled, then the Falcons offense will be a full-blown juggernaut again after a brief hiatus (largely due to injuries).