If you've been reading this column with regularity, you've heard a lot from me about our defensive line. Apparently, I'm in love with Kroy Biermann, a John Abraham fan for life, and part of Peria Jerry's personal cheerleading squad.
(If you haven't been reading this column with regularity, why not? I'm at least good for a laugh here and there...)
What the people haven't heard much about from me, however, is my opinion on Jamaal Anderson. I've found it irresistible to make a couple snide remarks here and there (like that Anderson's a "nothing" specialist) and was content to mention him as a glue guy in my comparison of our trenchmen to the NY Giants', but I have yet to truly wax analytic on the man we spent an eighth-overall pick on in 2007.
So here's a brief summary of the history of my feelings towards No. 98 up to about two weeks ago:
- When he was drafted, boy howdy, was I excited! Let's get some up front pressure to go with Keith Brooking, yeah !
- After he did close to nothing in his rookie campaign, I knew he just needed a year to break in, and was predicting some eight to 10 sacks from him last year.
- As he completed '08 with a whopping two sacks in 15 games, I quit hiding my disappointment and more or less relegated him to my "one more year to prove himself" list.
The big guy started this season slowly while pet project Kroy came on strong (two sacks in Week One against the Dolphins), and I pretty much forgot about Jamaal. Maybe he can come into the rotation here and there, give Biermann a breather, you know?
Then the coaching staff just simply embarrassed me by making a brilliant move before I'd even pondered it. Apparently, so many other fans already had (check one of my favorite outside Falcons blogs, the Falcoholic, for a lil' retrospective on the issue ), which is turning my face all the more red, since I thought I was so good at coming up with creative ways to get struggling guys into the action...
They inserted Anderson as a starting defensive tackle against the 49ers in Week Five, and while he did not shine, it's become obvious that he's not the kind of guy who will.
What he did do was play steadily, for a few reasons. Note that these also serve as reasons that the former Razorback might just be better suited to his new spot than the one he was assigned to for so long:
- He hasn't been able to get to the quarterback all that often, but he has that "motor" that prevents him from being a liability against the run. I'd much rather see a guy come off the edge at the opposing team's QB while the interior remains wall-like than a hole open up for a potential DT sack.
- Once he makes contact and gets tangled with a blocker, he deals with it better than perhaps even Abe does. No disrespect to my man John, but he's always been better when he redirects a tackle and gets on his own; Jamaal is so much better at gaining leverage, though no one watches for that kind of stuff.
- He has youth and size to set him apart from your typical Shaun Rogers, Alber Haynesworth, Kris Jenkins, or Vince Wilfork. He doesn't play anything like these guys, and while he'll never produce the way they did in their primes, his attack is different and has a chance at throwing off enemy O-lines. They aren't prepared for his energy or the way he ties up a blocker, which means either opposing run-blocking will suffer or one of our ends gets to the signalcaller.
To boot, we need another defensive tackle in the rotation while Peria Jerry is out. Once he's back (yeah, I know, NEXT YEAR...don't rub it in), the two can complement each other nicely as Jonathan Babineaux continues his rock-solid play next to them.
I think I'm becoming known as a "rah-rah" kind of guy, and that's just fine. So I'm taking my optimism to new heights by believing in this switch and supporting it as a permanent change; are you really surprised?
Do ya thing, Jamaal.