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Jackson's Return Means Big Things for the Falcons


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AJC Article

Jackson's return means big things for Falcons

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 07/29/08

Flowery Branch — For a player whose role tends to be described as one-dimensional, it's somewhat amazing how massive nose tackle Grady Jackson's return to the Falcons seems to have opened up a well of options.

Linebackers can now run more freely, different schemes can be employed and Atlanta now has the interior space-eater to allow it to shift from a four-man defensive front to a 3-4, should it so desire.

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"He gobbles up space," coach Mike Smith said of Jackson, who officially joined the team after signing a one-year contract Tuesday afternoon. "He's going to gobble up at least two blocks on plays. It's going to allow other players to be free. When you design a defense, you try to get an unblocked defender at the point of attack and he'll help us in that way."

Jackson, 35, hates being labeled a "run-stuffer" and is quick to point out his pass-rushing ability. What he does best, though, is occupy two offensive linemen and re-sets the line of scrimmage — he's a run-stuffer.

He spent nearly 1-1/2 seasons with the Falcons — he had an NFL high 13 tackles for loss in 2006 — but was released during a bye week last October by then-coach Bobby Petrino. Jackson signed with Jacksonville shortly thereafter, where he was coached by Smith, the Jaguars' defensive coordinator, and defensive line coach Ray "Sugar Bear" Hamilton, now Atlanta's defensive line coach.

"I didn't ever have hard feelings," Jackson said about his controversial departure from Atlanta last season. "It was a bad way Petrino did it but it was his way and it proved he doesn't know football."

Jackson's acquisition came in part because the Falcons don't have a surplus of 300-pounds (plus) defensive tackles and could be prone against massive offensive lines. Atlanta also will have a first-time starter at middle linebacker — second-year player Tony Taylor or rookie Curtis Lofton — so Jackson could absorb some of the abuse they could take.

"We've got some guys that really work hard but we don't have the 310-, 315-pound guys that can gobble up space," Smith said.

Adding Jackson could allow Atlanta, which plays a 4-3 scheme, to explore using three down linemen and four linebackers instead. Versatile players like Kindal Moorehead, Jonathan Babineaux, Montavious Stanley and Jamaal Anderson could play end or tackle, depending on the scheme, alongside Jackson.

Defensive end John Abraham can and has moved off the ball to drop or rush from an outside linebacker post. The Falcons have the linebackers who could fit into all slots of a 3-4 front. It would not be the base defense, since the Falcons prefer to play a four-man front, but Jackson's arrival provides flexibility.

"We've got the personnel to do it," Jackson said. "We played a 3-4 in Jacksonville too. Smitty [smith] is a great defensive guy. It's all going to be pretty good."

Jackson, entering his 12th NFL season, spoke to New England, Jacksonville, Oakland and Green Bay about playing for them this season, but he said he wanted to stay in metro Atlanta since his family lives here. He lost his old locker stall and re-located near linebacker Keith Brooking but that was hardly a problem.

His teammates welcomed him back with wide-open arms.

"Grady was with us last year and through divine intervention, he's back," Abraham said. "I think everybody's happy. I think the fans are happy, I know the team is happy. We just want to see him get on the field and see him do what he did last year before, I guess, his early departure."

Said Jackson: "It was like, when you ain't seen your cousin in a year or two and you're happy to see them. It was like a family reunion with Abe, Lawyer [Milloy], Keith and the other guys."

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I like that we got Grady back but let's keep something in mind.

How many snaps is he going to play on a given series? 2?

This also shows me how bad the depth of the d-line really is.

We completely ignored it in the draft and picked up guys off the scrap heap in FA and I have the feeling our secondary is going to get LIT UP this season.

What happens if Grady gets hurt?

Oh yeah, where are the guys that were glad to see him go last season because he couldn't play within the scheme? Where are they now? Where are the guys that was glad he was cut last season?

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I like the fact that Steve agrees with many of us on here about implying different schemes. I don't think I have honestly heard one thing from Coach Smith that I don't like yet. :wub:

i soo agree!! love the way the falcon ship is heading!!

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When was released last year, that was the last straw for me with our former co-ed coach, and don't get me started on that *********.

Grady is awesome, sure, he has the lungs of a 92 year old man, but on 3rd and short and first downs, he's a monster.

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Half this board who said Petrino was doing what was best for the team, since apparently Grady was blowing assignments, yet still leading the d-line in tackles.

Your average Falcon fan(The ones who said Petrino was doing whats best for the team)

The only good thing Petrino did for this team was bolt for the laughable Razorbacks.

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Im glad he is back. do you see the confidence he is giving his teammates? Playing Rugby i know that having players in the game with you that you trust- players that you know will bust his *** for the team makes you relax and concentrate on your game cuz you know your teammate will do his job. and i think its pretty clear that his teammates think he is well fitted for the job. Gravy baby! :rolleyes:

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