Jamaal Anderson is the one Falcon player that fans love to hate. But Anderson does have value, and Mike Smith isn’t crazy for saying so.
It’s easy to understand why Falcon fans are disappointed with Anderson. He has recorded 2.5 sacks in 3 seasons as a starter, major underachievement for a player that was drafted in 2007 with the expectation that he would replace Patrick Kerney, one of the top pass rushers in Falcons history.
People tend to forget that 45% of the plays called in the NFL are running plays, so the fact that Anderson is lacking as a pass rusher doesn’t equate his value to zilch. Anderson is arguably the best run defender on the team at defensive end.
And the team’s two most proven pass rushers: John Abraham and Kroy Biermann aren’t exactly known for the ability to hold up against the run. So the Falcons only benefit from having Anderson as well as Chauncey Davis manning most of the snaps on run downs. That way, Abraham and Biermann can focus on what they do best: rush the passer. Both players have a tendency to wear down as the season goes on. Abraham is no stranger to injuries, and Biermann’s production declined sharply as the season wore on. If the Falcons are hoping to make a deep playoff run, they are going to need their best pass rushers playing well and a lot down the stretch. So the more reps that can be saved for them in September and October should pay off in December and hopefully January.
Anderson also adds value because of his ability to play inside. And with Peria Jerry coming back from injury, the Falcons could use that insurance early in the season. The Falcons are also bringing along Corey Peters. And while Peters can contribute this season as a rookie, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll hit the ground running when the regular season begins. Folks should recall that Vance Walker who played as a rookie didn’t make many contributions until the middle of the season. One probably shouldn’t expect a whole lot more from Peters. Coupled with the possibility that Jerry may not be 100% by September, the Falcons mayneed that extra depth that Anderson provides early in the season.