Atlanta Falcons: Jacquizz Rodgers Should Be Deployed Like Sproles or MJD in 2012
Rodgers is compared with the diminutive tailbacks from the Saint and Jaguars primarily because they are all similar in size and speed. All three of the backs are classified as 5'6" or 5'7" and in the 190-200 pound range. All three of them also have great straight line speed as they all ran under 4.52 in the 40-yard dash.
The first thing the Falcons need to do is get the screen game going for Rodgers. The biggest staple of Sproles' game is the screen and it is the best way to isolate a top back against a defense. On the bright side, it looks like that is going to happen as the Atlanta Falcons' Daniel Cox mentions on their official site:
While the Falcons may not have actually been the worst team in terms of ability in the screen game last season, they finished in the bottom of the league in attempts. That’s about to change.
And change it shall. The Falcons will have an offense that may end up in the middle of the pack in terms of screen passes this year, but the main beneficiary of that should be Rodgers. Using his quickness and agility, the Oregon State product will look much better in 2012 due to the screen game.
Rodgers is looking to be an impact player by having an actual offseason in 2012 and the coaching staff is taking notice. As Running backs coach Gerald Brown notes (h/t Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter):
What he was able to do with not having an offseason, we thought was really good for us and for him to step in and be able to contribute like he did [last season.] This offseason again, we think it can do nothing but make him a better player. Even last year, when we game planned, we made sure that Quizz had some touches because he can do some things in the run and pass game. He’s an explosive player and we’ll try to get him the ball.
And explosion is something the Falcons need to continue to increase. When those plays of 16 yards in the passing game and 12 yards in the running game continue to be made by Rodgers, the Falcons will continue to hand him the ball.
Leading into the next point, another thing the Falcons need to do is increase his work load in the running game. Something that Cox mentions in another article is (h/t Atlanta Falcons Official site):
The unknown for Rodgers at this time is just how well he can carry the load as a running back taking hand-offs and running through the offensive line. Built solidly, early indications are that he’s capable of taking a beating.
Rodgers should be able to carry more of a load now and in the future. He needs to start out in a Sproles style role but should work his way into a Maurice Jones-Drew style role eventually. The diminutive back will be developing into a top back in the league and will truly be a steal in the long run.
The primary thing that sets these three apart from the rest of the competition is their elite level vision and balance. With the similarities that Rodgers has to Sproles and Jones-Drew, he should definitely be used like them.
Scott Carasik is an NFL draft and Atlanta Falcons Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek and also runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and the host of Kvetching Draftniks Radio.
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